Wednesday, January 01, 2014
The Seventh Day of Kwanzaa: Imani
Today's principle: To believe and trust in ourselves, our parents, our teachers, and our leaders, and our ability to overcome adversity while making progress as a people.
I had a conversation with an acquaintance recently about faith. He decided that Christians were weak-minded because of their blind faith in something that wasn't there. After he (a Yankee athiest) mansplained Jesus to me (a Southern Christian), I asked him to explain away the blind faith in his life. Like how he knew he'd wake up the next day in his right mind and in relatively good health -- if he woke up at all. Or how he knew he'd get home in one piece without getting hit by a bus. He believed that he'd get his paycheck at the end of the week -- but how did he know he'd actually get it? And if he did get it, how did he know it wouldn't bounce?
Faith isn't just for the religious. Everyone has faith in something. Where they put that faith is telling because faith is only as strong as what is grounding it. All too often, so many don't realize how much faith they've put into a thing until that faith is lost. It takes faith to believe that when you turn on the faucet, the water will be drinkable. Drinking that water means that you trust the local and regional municipalities that deliver it. Losing that trust means losing faith in them. It's going to take a lot of faith in the system and the people who deliver the water to my home for me to believe that it's clean if they've spent years poisoning me.
Faith then, is trust -- not knowing for sure what the outcome will be and trusting in the outcome anyway. Yes, I will wake up healthy tomorrow. Yes, I will get home safely. Yes, I will get my paycheck, yes it will clear. And yes, my water is clean.
I told the Yankee athiest that according to his logic, he was as weak minded as any Christian. There's an irony in there somewhere. Of course, he didn't catch it.
Imani asks that I have faith not only in myself but in my community, our leaders and our ability to accomplish the impossible in spite of the odds that have always been set against us. Because the truth is, we weren't supposed to make it. Our survival in America is a testament to our faith in each other and in God. Hundreds of millions of Africans in The Middle Passage, gone. The ones who managed to stay alive faced the relentless brutality of slavery that -- when they weren't maimed, raped, lynched and otherwise dehumanized -- literally worked them to death for hundreds of years. Reconstruction was worse than slavery.
And still, we rise.