(Blog Redo! I’m still learning this thing called blogging, making mistakes, writing poorly, but mostly trying to write from my head, rather than my heart. Recently I wrote a post that in hindsight I disliked for several reasons I just mentioned. So, I removed it. But rather than throwing it completely away, I have struggled to rewrite it with more. If you read the previous one, you’ll recognize this one. If you didn’t, I hope you will read further. I think it speaks to the message I wanted to convey originally. It’s grand being the new kid on the blogging block and learning!)
The Beauty and Richness of Diversity in Life.
I am a person. I am a white, female of eastern European and Scottish descent. I live in a middle- class community and am part of the aging population in America. Does that define me? Do you know what to expect of and from me? Yes . . . and no. Where do I belong? To whom do I belong?
First, I belong to that biggest of all identity, humanity. I joined this group at the moment of conception, when I started to take shape from two minute particles, an egg and a sperm, which was my ticket in. Within this group, there are universal themes and experiences. The tender heart of a mother when she looks into her drowsy infant’s eyes even as they close in sleep in her arms. The parent who works hard at a job so that food can fill their children’s belly. The young person who looks in the mirror with threads of insecurity, wondering about their future and unsure how they will weather adulthood.
These are things that make us one—this common creative heritage. It doesn’t matter what is my skin color, religious beliefs, or place on the globe I call home. You and I are alike. We function from heart and soul, mind, and spirit as human beings. This is the oneness of who I am with everyone else.
Then there is my culture. Culture is the umbrella that created the details about me, my actions, my beliefs, my social groups and much more. I learned what to wear, how to behave, live, talk a certain way, and practice my faith – all because of my culture. It is not a good or bad thing, just a reality. It’s what created the shape of me.
My cultural identity built a place for me to belong. A place familiar and safe feeling, because I knew what to expect and what is expected of me. I call it the act of embellishment. The things that separate us into groups. My obstetrician was from a country where men giggled and laughed with abandon. I wasn’t used to males in my life acting that way. Then I had the opportunity to visit his home country, the Philippine’s and discovered it was because of his culture. Most of the people I met were light-hearted with a joyous nature where everyone, men included, laughed and giggled easily.
This embellishment is what creates the beauty of our human world—a tapestry of color and design, hair styles and clothing, skin tones, and behaviors which create a richness for us to relish and delight within. It is like a rainy sky which suddenly is filled with a rainbow. When I see one, I usually get excited, run for my camera, and am filled with amazement at the colors. This is what cultures create in my world—a world unlike anything else because of the different colors.
Diversity of people, different cultures, and those unlike me, offer me an opportunity. I can choose to live in the sameness of “my people” which is narrow and small. Or I can choose to step into a big world of “My People” and live in a place that is incredible and amazing because of its diversity. My decision is to live big. What is yours?
Seen any rainbows lately?
Recently, I was offered the gift of learning something new about another cultural tradition, known as Kwanzaa and my world got just a little bigger. I would like to share what “tiny” bit of information I learned. If I get things wrong, I apologize, because I’m just a beginner.
From my place of ignorance, I thought Kwanzaa was an African-American religious tradition. It’s not. Kwanzaa is a celebration of community, family and culture, established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their roots and heritage. It began in 1966, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga,
It begins the day after Christmas, December 26 and lasts for seven days. But what makes this so beautiful to me is that it is based on seven principals, one for each day that speak of things I want to include in my life. Here they are and I hope you will take time to reflect on them. (There are symbols for each day, which I didn’t include.) They speak a universal wisdom and truth for all people, especially in these times of disunity.
The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa
1.Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
3. jima (Collective Work and Responsibility):To build and maintain our community together and make our community’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
4.Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
5.Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited.
7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
JOIN ME ON THE JOURNEY
I invite you to take the time to learn more about Kwanzaa. I am including some links to find out more information and have created a musical list/link on Spotify. Or study another culture, maybe the ancestral history of your own family, where you came from and what your people believed/believe in that is part of your broader identity.
And finally, Happy New Year to all. Be safe and smart and may 2022 be a year of health and happiness, not just for a few, but for all.
this is what I know today….