| Danette Mitchell: Tapping into Imani for renewed hope, empowerment
10…9…8…7…6… Most of us will hear this familiar countdown to 2018, followed by shouts of “Happy New Year” at midnight, and chords of Auld Lang Syne playing in the background.
We will see advertisements or read articles about becoming healthy, wealthy and happy in 2018. These are worthwhile goals, and we should always believe that we will have a productive year. However, each new year brings uncertainty, and 2018 will not be an exception.
We have the new Tax Reform Bill that will eliminate some of the tax provisions that many of us have enjoyed for years. Adult-use cannabis will no longer be illegal in California. These are just two changes that we should all be concerned about and educate ourselves on.
In addition to these changes that will affect our society, not to mention life happens situations that do occur, many people are already experiencing insurmountable challenges that they will carry into the new year. Some would say that 2017 has been a tough year and one they would rather forget and leave in the past.
Last week, we celebrated Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday celebrated from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa honors a different principle that the black community — and all Americans, for that matter — can benefit.
Imani (faith) is the last principle honored on Jan. 1. The founder, Maulana Karenga, creator of Kwanzaa, describes faith as a belief and commitment to all “that is of value to us as a family, community, people, and culture.” He said faith is the foundation of the other Kwanzaa principles and that when we believe that we are made in the image of the Creator, and base our actions on that belief, we establish and promote faith in ourselves and each other.
The principle requires undertaking a vast amount of inward work while relying on divine power that propels us to a higher level of spirituality for ourselves and those around us. Faith challenges us especially during difficult times. However, faith brings us closer to reaching our goals and seeing value and liberation in our struggles. Our self-value is reaffirmed, and our confidence regained that we can experience joy, the principle also teaches.
Years ago, I was listening to a radio broadcast, during which a young man called in and said he was having suicidal thoughts. He was hurting, and he did not know what to do. Anyone listening could hear in the young man’s voice that he was serious about taking his life.
His story was that he had been unemployed for more than a year and while he was moonlighting as a security guard, he still was unable to make ends meet for his family. His marriage was strained.
The DJ asked the caller if he had talked to anyone. The young man said he reached out to a church, friends and even relatives. However, he felt like no one would listen and always thought that when other people ended their lives, it was a crazy idea. He could never understand it. Now, he does, the caller had emphasized.
The DJ managed to keep the young man on the phone line while he called a counselor.
After the broadcast, the DJ said that thousands of people had called in to say that the advice given by the counselor helped them. The counselor had encouraged the young man to focus on what he really wanted to do. She told him while it will be tough at times, he must honor and respect himself and persevere through faith.
The caller’s security job eventually ended. He, however, began taking classes. Through self-determination and faith, he, once again, created opportunities for himself. He learned that joy eventually comes in the morning; however, we must first live through the night.
The story also confirmed that we never know about the various issues that people are facing, including those that are closest to us, even though we may try to stay present and aware. The bottom line is that we are all imperfect human beings trying to convince each other that we are flawless.
A new year brings with it new opportunities, new beginnings, new plans and new challenges, as well as renewed hope. No, we cannot provide inner healing to those whose hearts have been broken into zillion pieces. We can provide support to them as they empower themselves with Imani (faith).
The author is a social issues advocate, writer and a Vacaville resident. E-mail: email@example.com.
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