We have come to the end of the Kwanzaa celebration, and the final day, day 7, sees us examining the principle of Imani, or Faith.
Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. This principle of Kwanzaa encourages us to believe in our people – that we can and should be living to our full potential every single day of our lives.
We should believe in our families – though we are not perfect by any means, family is still for most of us a source of love, affection and positive reinforcement. If your family cannot be described in this way, then perhaps devoting some time to examination of the issues preventing you from supporting one another should be prioritized during this start of the new year. Don’t let another month, week or day go by without trying to rectify the situation. If you simply cannot encourage or inspire positive change in your family, then don’t just give up – but protect yourself.
We should believe in, and demand excellence from our educators – they help to prepare our children to live productive and rewarding lives. Let us not forget, though, that we cannot turn over the entire job of child-rearing and education to those outside of our homes. We should be reinforcing the positive things our children are taught in school, challenging the less-than-positive, and staying involved at all levels.
A parent who shows up at the school on a regular basis can feel confident that they know what’s going on in their child’s life. The school environment is a BIG influence on a child – sometimes, the child spends more time with staff and volunteers at a school than with their own parents. Busy schedules notwithstanding, you should have an intimate understanding of what your child is being taught and who their influences are.
Finally, we should believe in and demand excellence from our leaders – whether they are elected, as with local, state and federal government representatives and officials, or chosen, as with corporate leaders. We are all aware of recent stories regarding corporate irresponsiblity, and it seems that government’s shenanigans have reached a new level – one that does not necessarily inspire confidence in the people. By raising our voices and taking positive action, we CAN change the world around us.
Demanding excellence from our leaders means that we must be educated and empowered citizens – we should know what they are mandated to achieve and hold them to that standard. We should know what questions to ask when we attend local city or town council meetings; know what issues are being considered in our state legislatures, and know what we want our elected federal senators and representatives to accomplish during their term in office. We should also be crystal clear about what it will take for them to EARN our subsequent votes – and that we will hold them accountable for not listening / performing according to the will of the people.
The righteousness of the African American struggle is also a call to righteousness of the American struggle. It is, in many ways, a shared struggle. As African-Americans proper, so does America. We cannot afford to leave ANY group of people behind, or continue to try and disenfranchise them – either in obvious ways, or more subtle ways. We must ALL pay attention – because what happens to our neighbor, no matter what their race, color or creed, could eventually happen to us.
No man, woman, boy, girl or population segment can stand alone – no group can make it successfully in this world without the collective effort of all – even if the group “in power” chooses not to acknowledge it. The principle of Imani, Faith, means that we expect the best, demand the best, and will work to help make it happen…or to move out of the way those who do not contribute positively to the world around them.
It’s time to move forward into a new year, with new plans, new strength, and a new focus. I hope you enjoyed this series of posts on Kwanzaa.