The 2017 holiday season is here. This is the time of year when thoughts turn to (or should turn to) humanitarian ideals; it is a time of giving (and receiving). Through gift-giving people get a chance to think of others. This is a wonderful opportunity to really get a chance to know those who are in our lives because the gifts that we give must match the personalities and desires of those who will receive them.
Interestingly, the Christmas holiday is a religious one, and a Christian one at that. Because of this, a certain number of people are moving away from the holiday and are opting to embrace the more commercial aspect of the season.
Also, because so many traditions identify this time of year as special, there are people who are actually afraid to wish people a “Merry Christmas” lest they insult others. The more politically correct term, therefore, has become “Happy Holidays.” This way, people can identify with whatever aspect of the season they choose.
One thing, however, no matter what tradition is observed, that should NEVER go out of style is the idea of the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of the human family. The world today is in great need of this approach. As we look all around, people are losing faith in the world and in each other. Bigotry is on the upswing, no doubt spurred on by the inhumane actions of those in power in the United States and elsewhere.
One of the saddest situations that we are faced with during this season is the incredible resurgence of slavery! It is being reported that there is a bustling slave trade that has become evident in Libya. It is hard to believe that in this day and age the ancient specter of Black slavery is becoming one of the biggest problems on the planet. How could this happen?
Certainly, the removal of Muammar Gaddafi paved the way for this, which means that the United States is one of the factors in the rise of modern slavery. In addition, the United States’ penal system is enslaving people in America. This is evident in the huge numbers of Black Americans who are incarcerated. Prisons are the only places in America where slavery is actually legal, and forced labor is accomplished with little compensation for the prisoners but great profits for corporations.
Also, there is a new wrinkle in this situation; a new trend seems to be gaining momentum wherein prisoners will increasingly receive “virtual” visits in lieu of personal ones. This is more evidence of a move away from the humanitarianism that is characteristic of this season.
All of the foregoing indicates a need for a “correction” in the way that we live our lives. There is a wonderful recipe for this, if we would actually use it. It is called the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa has been celebrated in America since 1966-67. It begins the day after Christmas, December 26, and continues through January 1 of the New Year. If African Americans would embrace the Nguzo Saba, the holiday season, and the rest of the year, would turn out better for us. It could result in a Black community that creates a sea of calm in the midst of the chaos that currently exists.
The seven principles, Nguzo Saba, are: Umoja – Unity; Kugichagulia – Self-Determination; Ujima – Collective work and responsibility; Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics; Nia – Purpose; Kuumba – Creativity; and Imani – Faith. Putting these principles together we come up with the following strategy: As we Unify we will be better able to demonstrate Self-Determination through Collectively Working together with a plan to Cooperatively pool our Economic resources. In order to do this, we must identify a Purpose and then Creatively apply what we have decided while crafting our new direction. And most of all, we must have Faith in our plans and in each other in order to make sure that they become reality.
As we embark upon this challenging holiday season, keep these ideas in mind. There is strength in unity, and based on some of the decisions being made that threaten our security and possibly our lives, we must use whatever is at our disposal in order to survive and thrive. The Nguzo Saba, if enthusiastically embraced, could mark the beginning of a new age in the Black community. A Luta Continua.