Shall we consciously participate in the forming of a new society? Artists are called upon to do something new, to confront a no man’s land, to push into a forest where there are no well-worn paths and from which no one has returned to guide us. This is what the existentialists call the anxiety of nothingness. To live into the future means to leap into the unknown, and this requires a degree of courage for which there is no immediate precedent and which few people realize.
This courage will not be the opposite of despair. We shall often be faced with despair, and indeed every sensitive person has been during the last several decades. Hence, Kierkegaard and Nietszche and Camus and Sartre have proclaimed that courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.
Nor is the courage required mere stubbornness – we shall surely have to create with others. But if you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself. Also you will have betrayed our community in failing to make your contribution to the whole.
A chief characteristic of this courage is that it requires a centerdness within our own being, without which we would feel ourselves to be in a vacuum. The “emptiness” within corresponds to an apathy without; and apathy adds up, in the long run, to cowardice. That is why we must always base our commitment in the center of our own being, or else no commitment will be ultimately authentic.
________________________________________________________________________________ Rollo May