Monday, December 26, 2011

Harambee!


Today is the first day of Kwanzaa.  I like this celebration a lot because it is cultural, family and community orientated.  There are the seven principles to revisit and consider each year, since each year their significance and meaning can deepen or vary.  Today that principle is unity or Umoja.  Our son works for an organization called Umoja, which helps underserved urban youth, so it is a word and concept with which we are quite familiar. Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor in California and founder of Kwanzaa speaks this year about well-being and right-being of and in this world.  The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba, in Swahili are focused this year around the message to walk gently, act justly and relate rightly in and for the world.  Umoja addresses our desire to maintain a sense of oneness, and togetherness in all of the circles of our lives—in family, friendship, community, the world and the universe.  Dr. Karenga urges us to consider principled and peaceful togetherness, centered on mutual respect and equality.  Umoja asks us to stand in solidarity with those that are underserved and oppressed.   This is something I proudly watch my son do on a daily basis.  For him it is not something noble, it is just what he and the other people he works with do every day. I work with the homeless each month through an organization called West Suburban PADS.  I used to work at their main office as a volunteer once a week, helping clients find jobs, housing, transportation, clothing and helping them meet their personal care needs. It was interesting and every day I spent there had its challenges and spiritual rewards but then I had to seek employment so now I only work with the organization once a month as a volunteer. I realize when I am with the homeless clients how similar we all are and how was it not for the grace of the Goddess, I could be homeless.  The organization has a fabulous reputation for placing its clients in permanent housing which is a blessing.  Meanwhile, each day of the month a different church in Oak Park provides beds, a full course dinner and some time for community togetherness and warmth of several different kinds.  Today we should all take a sip from the kikombe cha umoja or unity cup and contemplate how we can be better in community and as supports for those around us. Never a better time for Harambee! (Let’s all pull together)! This image is a 5 by 7 inch art card that strives for unity in its design. It contains embossing, stamping and various elements of collage.

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