The theme for the 1st day of Kwanzaa is Umoja, a Kiswahili word which translates to mean UNITY.
Personal reflection on Unity…
There is little in life that can be achieved without some level of unity, even if the other partners in the exchange are (seemingly) invisible to each other. I work in the creative industries, and there are so many myths in that world which relate to the talents of the individual artist and their ability to create something from nothing. What is often overlooked is the other players in the chain that enable that to happen.
Take for example a genius writer who self-publishes their work, even designs the cover themselves, and never (directly) asks anyone else for help, advice, or anything else, and their work sells a million copies. Whether or not such a person actually exists isn’t the point. What I’m interested in is,
– What did they use to write their book? (e.g. Who designed and made the computer? Who made the word-processing software?)
– How did they self-publish their book? (e.g. Who printed it? Who made the software to turn the pages into an e-book, and what online tools do you use to make the online shop?
The invisible partners involved in that very individual pursuit would count into the hundreds, if not more. This example could be challenged – is this really an example of unity, if the other partners are pieces of technology, robots, tools to use, rather than actual living breathing people working together. I would dispute that challenge.
If I’m doing some DIY and ask you if I can borrow your hammer, and you give it to me to use, then that’s a form of unity. (If you’re a shop you might rent or sell it to me, and if I’m equal in that contract and not being exploited, then that’s fine also.) What I wouldn’t expect you to have to do is come back with me and hold the nail whilst I hammer, in order for me to call it unity. The supply of the tool I needed to carry out my work was enough. In a unified society I shouldn’t need to gain anything personally from lending you the hammer, beyond the ability for me to reuse it myself or lend it out again in the future. Neither party should be exploited in the exchange. Unity is about being mindful to the position and context of the other person in the partnership and acting accordingly in the interests of both.
There’s a huge amount of people in our modes of existence that are invisible to us, that we take for granted and do not consider partners.
Likewise, there are huge amount of people in our modes of existence that are VISIBLE to us, that we take for granted and do not consider partners.
No matter how independent and self-reliant we think we are, whether we like it or not, we are actually interdependent beings. So like-minded individuals group together as communities, pool their resources, lend to each other, build up eachother, and the interdependence is acknowledged and embraced, and the unity is celebrated as a value of the people. This is healthier than a society where the reality of unity is resisted and remains unacknowledged, which can breed resentment, and fuel mistrust and hatred.
There’s a Jamaican saying which tells us that ‘One hand can’t clap.’ This saying is a metaphor for telling us that we have to work together, and more can be achieved through partnership. Though even taken at an extremely literal level, we also have to work with ourselves and find unity of our own body and mind. Unity is not about blindly doing what someone else tells you to do, it’s about knowing yourself and only doing what is right within your own values and moral compass.
I’ll end this meditation here as unity is a huge concept and too much to explore in one go! (I actually started to write this as I woke up with a migraine, and writing can be a diversion tactic to concentrate on something else rather than the pain. It’s worked, for now at least….I’m thankful for that.)
Have a blessed Umoja day everyone. Make those partnerships visible and take nothing for granted and give thanks. Here I’m preaching to myself first. No judging of others is involved.
Blessed Love, Peace and Unity.
Shawn 💚💛❤️ x