The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now. --Bill Cosby
Red, black and green decorations create a festive setting for Kwanzaa, the 7-day celebration of the prized principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. First commemorated in 1966, Kwanzaa is the observance of African-American heritage envisioned by Maulana Karenga, featuring candle lighting, pouring of libations, and the sharing of wonderful food and gifts. Kwanzaa is patterned on harvest celebrations of the past that traditionally focused on family and community.
During the Kwanzaa season (and hopefully year-round) we are challenged to ask ourselves what it means to be human and to be fully present. By doing so, we may, in the words of Malcolm X, collectively "wake up, clean up and then stand up" -- not just for ourselves and others, but also for our planet.
From November through January, there is a steady string of related holidays, from Ramadan, to Thanksgiving, to Hanukkah, to Christmas, to Kwanzaa. Each of them offers us a Universal message of sacrifice, and proposes that we take responsibility for our individual impact on our community and environment. But this responsibility can often feel overwhelming (What can I, as one person, do to change anything?).
However, in today's growing consciousness about our fragile environment and the effects of a multi-cultural global economy, we can each fulfill this collective responsibility with small, personal, but highly significant actions: by recycling; by being more energy efficient; by walking, biking or using public transportation to arrive at our destinations; and by not polluting our air and water with our household cleaning products. (In case you didn't know, most commercial cleaning products include toxic chemicals that are dangerous and harmful to just about anything that walks, crawls, swims or flies.)
By being grounded in our past, while acting appropriately in the present, we show the world and the next generation who we are...because small, thoughtful decisions make a powerful impact on our future.
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