Rise UP

Talking a slight detour from this month’s focus on art, I thought I’d share some words on the frenetic activities swirling around my life, and have no doubt touched all of our lives in some way. I admit, it’s hard to focus on making art during these mad times of pandemics, economic recessions, elections, emergencies, layoffs.

But I find comfort in these words, by Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Courage is that quality which enables us to stand up to any fear. It is the final determination not to be stopped or overwhelmed by any object, however frightful it may be. Many of our fears are very real, and not mere snakes under the carpet. Trouble is a reality in this strange medley of life and dangers lurk beneath our every move….Courage is the inner determination to go on in spite of obstacles and frightening situations; cowardice is the submissive surrender to the forces of circumstance. The man of courage never loses the zest for living even though his life situation is zestless; the cowardly man, overwhelmed by the uncertainties of life, loses the will to live. Courage breeds creative self‐affirmation; cowardice breeds destructive self-abnegation. Courage faces fear and thereby masters it; cowardice represses fear and is thereby mastered by it. So we must constantly build dykes of courage to ward off the flood of fear.”

Music helps, too. 

You're broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry-go-round
And you can't find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up

--Andra Day. Rise Up (Warner Bros. Records, Aug. 28, 2015)

And, when all else fails, there’s a bit of scary humor. Because pandemics and zombies go together like Michael Jackson and Thriller.

What are your favorite words of courage? Your favorite songs of inspiration?

For Martin Luther King’s full sermon on overcoming fear, see "The Mastery of Fear or Antidotes for Fear". MLKP, MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

--Bobbi Miller


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