Celebrating Kwanzaa – Day 3 – Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility

The third day of Kwanzaa is upon us, and it's time to consider the principle of Ujima - Collective Work and Responsibility. Who was it that said "Many hands make light work"? Whoever it was, I'm sure they had first-hand experience with the wonderful results of collective work and the extraordinary results that can be achieved when everyone in a community or connected to a cause takes responsibility for its success. When traveling your personal self-development journey, you may feel that "collective work" isn't a term that really fits - I beg to differ. The principle of Ujima includes building and maintaining our community (or communities) together and making our brother's or sister's problems our problems, while working to solve them together.

The third day of Kwanzaa is upon us, and it’s time to consider the principle of Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility. Who was it that said “Many hands make light work”? Whoever it was, I’m sure they had first-hand experience with the wonderful results of collective work and the extraordinary results that can be achieved when everyone in a community or connected to a cause takes responsibility for its success.

When traveling your personal self-development journey, you may feel that “collective work” isn’t a term that really fits – I beg to differ. The principle of Ujima includes building and maintaining our community (or communities) together and making our brother’s or sister’s problems our problems, while working to solve them together.

What challenges / problems are you facing that may also be affecting your community? For instance – is it possible for a community to have low self-esteem? Of COURSE it is! The elements that create challenges for us in relation to our self esteem – thinking another person is better than we are, downplaying our accomplishments, being overly hard on ourselves, speaking negatively about ourselves – can be the same kinds of elements that challenge a communities’ self-esteem. In the same way that I encourage you to choose what words you use to define yourself, a similar exercise can be performed for a community – one person at a time. Continuing to speak negatively about your community – whether it exists in a geographic area, is defined by an area or interest, experience, profession or worship – is putting negative energy and intention where it should not be focused. Focus instead on speaking well of your community – find things to celebrate about it, and then do NOT keep those elements worthy of celebration a secret.

While you are on your journey toward Loving Your Reflection, you are doing some analysis. You should be looking at the elements of your Total Self – visual, vocal and verbal – to see what it is that’s special and unique about you. We are all in transition – even those who we feel are “accomplished” would tell you that they are not 100% satisfied with every area of their lives. There is always another goal to reach, another project to work on, another song in their hearts that drives them forward and keeps them working toward realizing a higher purpose. 

What might that look like for a community? If our brother or sister has a challenge with finding a good job because the community does not attract the kind of employers that they wish to work for, then changes to the community in general or as a whole to make it more attractive to businesses of all sizes will have a “spin-off” affect and bring new opportunities to those looking for employment. 

Many communities in the U.S. have begun a grass-roots movement to replace unhealthy food and snacks in school cafeterias with much more diverse and healthy choices. They simply refused to accept the answer that it could not be done and set about doing it. It may have taken longer than they thought, may have been a tougher fight than they wished for, but in the end perseverance won. They made their brother’s and sister’s problems (a concern for healthy food for their children) THEIR problem and set about solving it.

The power of collective work and responsibility is incredible – so much can be accomplished when like minds work together and when many hands make light work.