I acquired a poster not to long ago, the portrait is of Bob Marley. The image is of freedom. This sense of freedom can be, and is, achieved through his music, powered by his music, and inspired by his music as it relates to the social injustices in early white imperialism. An illusion of the creation of a human life is being meshed together in this distinct piece of work. It is a portrait of an artist fighting solely for freedom using the power of music as his weapon. The tiny pictures that make up this portrait are in both color and black and white and together show inspiring details from the life of Bob Marley.
Masses of colorful records, which represent the lyrics intended to motivate listeners everywhere, make up the darkness of Marley's dreadlocks. His dreadlocks are a mark of freedom and represent the Lion of Judah. They are considered the symbol of Rastafarian manhood. Marley's face and eyes are somewhat lighter in color, and are made up of random samplings from experiences in his own life. The most prominent image that arises when gazing at the portrait is his hand raised gently to his lips in his routine to smoke "ganja" in a religious practice.
This herb is an Indian strain of hemp that causes hallucinations and spiritual visions. The Rastafarians believe that in this action they become one with Jah, the creator. The lyrics of Bob Marley's songs are a part of the entire Rastafarian culture that centers on what is godlike and holy, around justice, compassion, and resistance. Its message is having one love and allowing for the unification of humanity. It is through the lyrics that Marley acts as a political activist, expressing his feelings for the stolen Africans forced to come to and fight for the United States. Through his lyrics, Bob Marley epitomizes the goal of the entire Rastafarian culture.
Marley's songs bring people together with a simple message of peace. This goal is, and will continue to be, peace on Earth as it is in heaven. In the portrait of the artist we are shown the creation of a life. This life is cherished worldwide for its brilliancy to communicate, both politically and spiritually, through music. Music opens and lifts the heart, and is the sole reason why I have a strong personal connection with the poster in observation. Upon purchasing this poster, I saw only a mirage of small pictures being used to display an even larger, more essential portrait.
It was not until I got the poster back to my house that I realized the smaller pictures were a necessity for making up the whole, much larger image. I looked at them intently for a relatively long time, and was taken away by the intricate detail with which they were comprised. In this, I realized the life of Bob Marley and his struggle in preaching justice for all, is identically complex to the pictures that make up his entire portrait... The poster now hangs on the wall beside my bed and when I look directly into the eyes of Bob Marley, I can't help but think how his life inspires my own. I lie there and hear his encouraging voice as if he is still alive. He speaks words of freedom as well as social injustice as it pertains to us as individuals.
His music opens my own heart to new experiences and rituals and allows me to understand and accept our differences. Bob Marley's culture is a source of freedom that allows him to speak out for past generations and make known the issues of injustice. His music is a product of his culture, of his beliefs, and of his experiences. Marley once wrote, in a poem about war, "That until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes, there will be war." Bob Marley speaks here about race and the behavior of white Americans in their forcing African Americans, then called buffalo soldiers, to unwillingly fight for the United States. His song "Buffalo Soldier" goes hand in hand with this notion and discusses the hardships faced by African Americans during the Civil War. Bob Marley suggests that until all human beings are treated as equals, there will be war.
However, this idea poses a question every time I look at the image of the poster. Is Marley preaching of physical war or the emotional war within ourselves to achieve personal freedom? As I see it, until we accept each other as one, there will always be war among nations and races. Just as likely, and more importantly, freedom of one's life will not come until differences and injustices are accepted internally. Bob Marley, speaking of his own lyrics in an interview says, "My music fights against the system that teaches to live and die." This inspiring idea is truly present in many of his songs, but prevails in the song entitled "Get Up, Stand Up." This song has a basis in the Rastafarian belief to stand up for what you believe is right, to speak your voice in situations of both adversity and conflict. This reinforces the idea that we make up our own life and its contents are our own doings. When faced with difficult and trying moments, we must remember that it is our right to decide what should be done.
We are given the power through the Creator to make our life anything we choose. This is only a simple part of the universal freedom that Marley tries to emphasize in his music. As a preacher of Rastafarian culture, Marley uses his lyrics to lead people in believing that living just to die, in fact, is not living at all. He insists in this particular instance that we stop playing the game of life when we die and go to heaven. His universal lyrics have the ability to change the way people think and feel.
People everywhere can relate to the songs of this artist and realize both the happiness and suffering in life. Marley speaks not only about the treatment of African Americans, but speaks about the entire population coming together as one to achieve universal freedom. So as I look at the portrait of Bob Marley, made up of small pictures that represent the details of an influential and inspiring lifetime, I question myself, am I free? This poster acts as a leading influence on the direction of my own life as I search for freedom within myself by accepting people for what they are. I then ask, am I living for life, or am I living for death? I see a reflection of my wrongdoings as I look into the eyes of the man on the poster. I often feel that I am not living life to its fullest.
It is in Marley's lyrics that I realize the brutality and insecurity of the human race. It is in the poster of Bob Marley that I realize the struggles in his life that he relentlessly overcame to inspire others on the idea of universal freedom. He sings beliefs of the Rastafarian culture, but preaches them to each individual. These lyrics are universal and the portrait is much the same as it is made up of intricate details of the life of Robert Nesta Marley.