Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: unity in diversity

This square image is dominated by a red rectangle showing a black, green, yellow, and red design flanked by the words, “The seven principles: Umoja: Unity. To maintain unity in Family, community, nation, and culture.”

Kwanzaa Begins with Unity

Kwanzaa begins with Unity. Is there any value that should resonate more with all of us? Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration of African American strengths and values. I’m not Black, so I can’t presume to speak for Black people (other than as an ally against racism).

But no American of any ethnic background can afford to spurn the idea that unity is a paramount value, and sadly lacking in the USA right now. In this historical moment, all of us could afford to learn a few things from our Black neighbors and friends.

I don’t believe I did justice to the first day of Kwanzaa, back in 2017 when I wrote my first post about it. I squeezed it in between two other “holiday thoughts,” about the day after Christmas and Boxing Day. Both have their place, but Kwanzaa deserves to stand alone.

This square image is dominated by a red rectangle showing a black, green, yellow, and red design flanked by the words, “The seven principles: Umoja: Unity. To maintain unity in Family, community, nation, and culture.”
Image by, and courtesy of, Jeffrey St. Clair. See Credits below.

Kwanzaa Begins with Unity and so Should We

If you think about it, unity is what brought us together as a nation in the first place: unity against outside tyranny. We were perpetuating our own egregious tyranny over the enslaved Africans whose labor our white ancestors stole to build a lot of the young country. But at the same time the founders (apparently unironically) set forth principles of equity and justice.

The very foundations of this country were uniquely well-adapted to building a multicultural nationality. Emphasizing freedom, equality, and justice for everyone under the law was radical stuff in the 18th Century.

And it’s still radical stuff today. We set ourselves up “from the get-go” for a lot of trying and falling short. We are a multicultural republic, stitched together both by force and by choice. And we are perpetually certain to come up against opposing views competing for space and dominance.

The background of this square image is a charcoal drawing of four hands and forearms in a roughly square alignment, where each hand grasps the wrist of the person to their right. Superimposed over the drawing, it says, “’Unity is Strength, Division is Weakness.’ – Swahili Proverb.”
Courtesy of United We Stand on Facebook. See Credits below.

But Beginning is Not Enough

If you look at the whole principle as outlined in Jeffrey St. Clair’s design, the idea is “to maintain unity in family, community, nation and culture.” That’s no small feat. And it’s definitely not something we can do alone. That takes commitment. It takes grit, it takes communication, and it takes a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated, like-minded people.

Kwanza begins with Unity, but it continues with six other principles that ground and support and make unity happen. This holiday celebrates strong Black people living in a vibrant culture – but no single segment of our multicultural republic can flourish without a broader unity.

Here in the USA we’ve managed to let ourselves be drawn into warring camps, to the extent that we’re in serious danger of losing it all. Can the “democratic experiment” we started almost 250 years ago survive? Not without Umoja. And not without Black people, White people, Native people, immigrants from all different communities and everybody else in this country joining together in our own self-defense.

This is a dark red square image with a length of woven Kente cloth across the bottom. At the top it says “@SanCophaLeague,” Then “Black Unity is key. ‘Get organized and you will compel the world to respect you.’ -Marcus Garvey.” In the lower left, just above the cloth band, it says, “Facebook.com/SanCophaLeague.”
Courtesy of SanCophaLeague. See Credits below.

Kwanzaa Begins With Unity, but the Series Continues

I have spent a lot of time this week going back though my old series of Kwanzaa articles and updating them for today’s standards. 2017 was 6 years ago, which is an eon or so on the Internet. Now they’re ready for mobile devices, and I’ve tried to optimize them other ways, as well as expand them into fuller explorations of the topic. Along the way, I’ve also worked to improve the illustrations in both quality and relevance.

So please take a look at the rest of the series in their new format! Take them in order, or skip around if one or another takes your fancy: See Self-Determination on Day Two, followed by Working Together and Investing Wisely. From there, explore Empowerment through Purpose, and Creative Healing. Appropriately enough, on New Year’s Day Kwanzaa Ends with Faith to Take that Step . . . whatever you determine those steps should be in the coming year.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to Jeffrey St. Clair, via LinkedIn’s Slide Share for today’s Umoja: Unity design. I really loved the “Unity is Strength” quote-image from United We Stand on Facebook, and I also loved how the quote coordinated with my topic today. It was a little harder to track down the SanCophaLeague’s exact image, which I first found on Pinterest. I figure it’s got to come from them since their name is all over it, but even Tineye Reverse Image Search didn’t turn it up. In any case, Thank you!

This is a photo of the United States flag, flying in a strong breeze from a flagpole.

Gratefully remembering

The Artdog Quotes of the Week for Memorial Day 2019

Sometimes it’s hard to gratefully remember important things. Such remembering requires that one stop and take stock. Such gratitude requires a certain humility, and acknowledging that there are more important things than oneself.

This image shows an American flag in the breeze with a blue sky behind it. Above it are the words "Memorial Day," and below it are the words "Remember and Honor."

Sometimes it’s hard to feel anything but overwhelmed. This month has been fraught and frantic for me. Two different family members suffered life-threatening illnesses. I’ve spent a lot of hours chatting with tech support personnel about hitches and glitches that came with the relocation of this website to its own dedicated server.

May also was a twoconvention month. And all the pressures, deadlines, and preparation required to kick off another summer’s book-and-art tour tend to cluster at the beginning. When else?

The words, "Greatness is not what you have, it's what you give. To those who gave their all: We thank you. Memorial Day." are superimposed over a red, white, and blue pinwheel pattern patchwork quilt, with the attribution Bonnie K. Hunter, Quiltville.com.

But remembering–and remembering gratefully–is important. It’s a vital piece of how we understand ourselves in relation to our world, our community, and our relationships. It’s so important that we’ve set aside a day for it.

The background of this image is dominated by the color yellow, which makes the background of photos and an old-fashioned pocket-watch take on an almost red-violet color in the darker areas. White letters superimposed over the photo say "Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things," which is a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer.

It’s not just a day for picnics (weather permitting), or family gatherings, or swimming pool openings, or barbeque, or even decorating graves, fireworks, concerts, and marching in parades–although we associate all of those things with Memorial Day. It’s a day for remembering that without costly sacrifices we might have none of the freedoms we enjoy.

Those open-air concerts, those parades, those delicious meals, might never be possible if we did not live in freedom and peace. Those beloved family members might be scattered or lost. The brave defenders of our liberty, the ones whom we remember on Memorial Day, live within us when we enjoy our freedoms–but also remember that freedom doesn’t come for free.

The background photo of this image of two people's hands clasped is shifted to a turquoise-blue hue. The darker details in the photo are blue-violet. Over the image, white letters read "Death ends a life, not a relationship." it's a quote from Mitch Albom.

We have a bond of love and honor, an important relationship with those fallen ones who paid so dearly for the things we enjoy. It is our own honor–not theirs–that we stain and trample and besmirch when we forget.

Let us never forget them. But also . . .

Superimposed across the background of part of an American flag are two inset images from military cemeteries with their rows of white gravestones, and the words, "To those who courageously gave their lives . . . and those who bravely fight today . . . Thank You."

Let us likewise never forget the importance of the principles they stood for: freedom and human dignity, opportunity for all; balanced government; respect for the rule of law, but also respect for the people whose well-being those laws are supposed to protect.

Let us remember the whole Constitution, not just our favorite parts. Let us remember the sacred importance of treaties. Let us remember that no matter what we look like, or what our spiritual beliefs (including the lack thereof), or where we came from, or how recently, we all have a stake in the experiment that is our country.

And that every generation inherits the obligation to honor those concepts and that unity-in-diversity that has brought this nation to such vibrant life, if we are truly to honor their sacrifice.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to News of Mill Creek and the City of Edmonds, WA, for the “Memorial Day Remember and Honor” image; to Bonnie K. Hunter and her Quiltville.com website, via Memorial Day Image.com , for the quilt-backed expression of Memorial Day’s purpose; to Funeral One, for the illustrated Schopenhauer and Albom quotes; and again to Memorial Day Image.com, for the closing “Thank You” image. Thanks also to LaRue Tactical, for the Featured Image U.S. Flag photo.

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