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  • Loren King

‘We Rise Up’ Urges Expansive View of Humanity

“We Rise Up” aims high. The documentary states at the start that it’s not a film that wants viewers to sit back but instead to lean forward and expand their ideas about nothing less than life’s true purpose.

There are guides along this blueprint for a new way of thinking that include the expected such as His Holiness The Dalai Lama. But the film also includes a wide range of innovators, entrepreneurs and creators of all ages and backgrounds, from musicians Moby and Prince EA to Toms founder Blake Mycoskie. All chose the road less traveled. These commentators appear at various point throughout the film to talk about why they made the decisions they made and to share a message that personal success and fulfillment comes only when doing more for others or for society.

The film, directed Michael Shaun Conaway, is structured in chapters that address questions such as "what is success”? “what is your purpose”? and “how are you being used by life”? As Rev. Michael Beckwith explains, reality has shifted from one that prizes personal achievement and monetary gain to one that seeks to change the world for the better. Many of these businesspeople and creators have also made careers and enjoyed financial rewards but they all talk about lack of fulfillment in their conventionally successful lives until they figured out how to merge their passion with a way to leave the world in a better place. One of the most profound perspectives comes from therapist and speaker Sean Stephenson who from his wheelchair recalls his mother telling him as a child that he had to decide whether his disability would be a gift or a liability.

Mixing gorgeous photography of oceans and the galaxy with scenes of global strife such as mountains of trash or the poverty on the crowded streets of Mumbai, “We Rise Up” also mixes poetry and occasional platitudes with a sense of purpose that urges viewers to see their lives as connected beyond borders, boundaries or limitations. It’s a guide for the soul.


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