The Courage of Maya Angelou and The Baton She Passed to Us

The Courage of Maya Angelou and The Baton She Passed to Us

Maya Angelou left us with words of beauty and a reminder of how the best in each of us might rise above the worst.  She was a person of remarkable sensitivity. 


She did not, however, leave us only with beautiful poetry and stories of positive things.  She reminded us that it is only by having the courage to “win back our finer and kinder and healthier selves,” to educate our children about purity, temperance, goodness, worth, and moderation that we will stem the rising tide of immorality.

We need to examine what the absence of those qualities has done to our communal spirit, and we must learn how to retrieve them from the dust heap of nonuse and return them to a vigorous role in our lives.

The task she passed to us is a massive one because we have too often allowed degeneracy, indifference, vice, greed, and cruelty to take the place of virtue.  We have rewarded those who become famous or wealthy, no matter the how of their rise, allowing meanness to invade our minds and actions as we adulate or imitate their ascent.

It takes cognitive awareness and communication skill to avoid doing this – the ability and courage to stand up to those who act solely in their own best interests.  It takes uncommon introspection and people like Richard Martinez, who lost his son in the Isla Vista killings of six U.C. Santa Barbara students, to stand up and say “No more!”

As we remember and honor Maya Angelou, let’s also bear firmly in mind the task she set before us to counter the slippage of our culture into acceptance of dishonesty and selfishness.  She did not intend for us to be oblivious to vicious politics or naive in the face of abuses of power.  Angelou did not expect the task of correction in our society to be an easy one or that those gentle of spirit would, without exhaustive effort, win the day.  She left us with an actionable calling to do our part today and everyday – to notice evil so that we might face it down and keep it from consuming us.

 In Maya Angelou’s own words, the goal is this: 

I would like to see us go on calling on the good example and upon virtue itself with the purpose of inviting them back into our communities, our businesses, our homes, our lives, to reside in those places as favored friends.

To the extent each of us stands up in our corner of the world to the dismissal of virtue and goodness, we will depart this life as Angelou did with dignity having lived a life of positive purpose.  We may trip along the way, but by holding firm with courage we will have made a difference.

photo: Gil C/Shutterstock.com

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What is the rarest blood type?

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  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
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China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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