The Dream Abides

The Occupy movement has become a powerful indicator of great change in our midst: the struggle to navigate the survival instincts of fear in a turbulent world versus the choice to love in the face of violence, poverty and death. As a naturopathic doctor, I often see how these core fears and subsequent contractions contribute to physical illness and even more fear.

In Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he reminds us that “again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

Soul force is the knowledge that we are much more than our physical body. It is acting from our core in service to something greater than our fear. Soul force lends us the capacity and courage to meet our life’s challenges full-on, with openness and love.

I have pondered what it must have been like to be an activist during the Civil Rights movement, to see my companions brutally beaten or killed, knowing full well that I might be next. And yet trusting in soul force carried a deeper purpose—to love the “enemy” and to open up to the fear, no matter what. Contraction and running to “safety” was not an option.

That completely broke me open to the eternal truth that in practical, every-day actuality, love, that courageous choice to open, really does heal and prevail in all situations.

Therefore, if we wish to shift the experience we are having with others or ourselves in a deep and significant way, we must be open, trusting and inquisitive, and must take nothing personally, even when experiencing tremendous fear. As we step into this larger version of ourselves, we awaken to the innate courage and compassion that resides in us all.

May we honor Martin Luther King’s legacy by finding the courage to step fully into who we are, let go of the fear that binds us and surrender to the healing power of love.

Melissa Patterson is a naturopathic doctor in private practice in Sebastopol. Find her at