Life is hard. It is so hard. If you are single or married, have a partner or have kids... it doesn't matter. Any way you slice it, life is so hard. Today is the first day of Kwanzaa and I am reflecting on the first of the Nguzo Saba: 7 Principles. Umoja means unity. Unity is so valuable, not only to the macro cultural perspective but also to the interpersonal relationships we all try to cultivate. Umoja is the difference between turning into someone when we feel pain versus turning away from them. My past is full of trauma and difficulty and I find it very hard to stay unified with people. Something in my heart tells me "you don't need anyone, you got this." The moment I begin to believe those words, I find myself severing my connectedness to people. It is easier after all, I think, to do it alone.
But we can't go very far alone.
As much as we'd (especially me) like to think we can, the world just doesn't work that way. We are built for community and unity is a building block of community. Unity means we are part of a larger constellation, each of us shinning in our own ways to make the larger picture in the sky. Painful experiences like Sandy Hook bring us together, even if for a little while, and fortify us. Umoja, though, calls us to a deeper pursuit of unity; unity that is not simply circumstantial.
Part of the Kwanzaa tradition means taking the Nguzo Saba and using them to guide us into the new year. I am seeking ways to weave unity in my daily life. Part of this work means restoring relationships that have suffered from ego, my own traumatic projections, and dysfunction.When I feel fear and pain my first reflex is to run and break a relationship. Umoja reminds me that the building block of my experiencing community means to trust authenticity found in seeing myself as a part of one family. One of the most important aspects of unity is hope. As Brene Brown writes, "Hope is learned!...It's a conscious choice." When we hope and focus on authenticity we are moving closer and closer to unity.
Habari Gani? UMOJA!