Who are we? This question still rings curiously in my psyche, ever since the initial encounter I had on the street with an elderly man who originally posed me this question. What a heavy dilemma! Nevertheless it invited me to further engage myself into deep contemplation and reflection.
This world that we currently inhabit, is so backwards. Upon my observation, many of us as humans are always in a frantic rush to be somewhere. We always seem to be so eager to be the big dog on top, but to what extent? I am admittedly a young man of 24 years of age who some deem to be overly idealistic. But with all that aside, I nevertheless believe that life doesn't have to be the way it is.
I grew up very privileged. I actually used to deeply resent this fact. Despite the objective fact that my parents, being African Americans from Virginia, overcame blatant discrimination and prejudice and obtained college degrees, ultimately providing both me and my sister with a very comfortable up bringing. Both of my parents had respectable jobs in the world of corporate America. I just always found it difficult that my sister and I could afford certain things that some of my other friends could not. I tasted first hand the ghastly flavor of Classicism, and was naturally lead to resist its pending temptation. Additionally, growing up I always found it a tad bit odd that humans worked hard in life to seemingly aspire to being confined into a cubicle in a cookie cutter environment that exuded monotony. I found myself questioning the validity of this from a very young age.
I also found it odd how life was expected to gradually be more complicated by the year, and how I was encouraged to "settle" for a job in the long run that would make me the most money, never mind being happy or following any sense of passion. I struggled in grade school, constantly questioning everything that was forced fed into my noggin. I always felt disillusioned to it all, mainly because I never felt represented truly in this "civilized" society. I proudly am descended from people of both African and Indigenous Chickahominy blood. I couldn't help but feel naturally that my ancestor's voices and opinions were deemed irrelevant if not completely ignored. This created a pattern in me throughout grade school, that forced me to question the inherent legitimacy of everything that existed.
It was out of these primitive thoughts, that a new hunger arose from the core of my being. I now yearned to be as free as possible, yet what did that look like? Freedom to me, has its blue print in being able to transcend our worst fears. For me, I have always been terrified of what others thought of me. This largely stemmed from me being exposed to such intense judgement growing up from seemingly everyone around me. As I progressed with my teenage years and transitioned into young adulthood, I couldn't help but begin to not care about the opinions of others. I started to wear bold patterned clothes, bandanas, various eccentric hats and even got into wearing some traditional ancestral clothing from the motherland of Africa. All of these things were the most liberating in their nature for me. It was in that moment in time where I made the decision that I was done subscribing to an identity in which I never consented.
This, I believe, is how each of us can begin to rediscover who we really are beneath who we were told to be. From this primal step of me simply embodying my heritage and honoring those who trekked the land before me, I began to be open to even more notions of innovation and creativity. Out of this, emerged the realization that we as humans have all seemed to agree to play a very perverse game. It seemed that everything that we valued as being "good" and "just" didn't have too much to do with the overall well being and preservation of our planet. Do we really need more successful businessmen in this world? Will more businessmen in the world truly contribute to a more inclusive, just and loving reality for generations to come or would it just mindlessly perpetuate an ongoing cycle of abuse and abandonment? The same goes for a soldier, do we really need more soldier in the world who have a one track mind to kill?
I personally believe that we need more people in this world who are aware of the fact that we are dying. Our current actions and inactions alike, are inevitably leading us toward a path of obliteration. I do not think that any war will ever be the savior of the human race. I do not believe that any bomb will ever ensure a more promising future for my potential kids and grand kids. Peace is the only way that we will be able to sustain our world efforts. Peace along with authentically being open to communicate with our fellow people. For too long we have feared the "other". We have relied so foolishly on folklore and superstition to formulate our opinions on groups of people who do no appear physically the same to us. And we see where this old template of consciousness has lead us to; we see where it is inevitably leading us to.
Yet there is hope, more hope than one may realize. Hope takes it's time gradually mounting as a mist of radiance over top the darkness of the storm clouds. For me, I find inspiration to live in a simpler more loving time from my ancestors. I am reminded of the joys and thrills that the simplicity of life can offer when I drum my djembe. I am reminded of the resilience of a people, who managed to survive a viscous cycle of genocide and assimilation, every time I slip on my moccasins. Upon looking into the eyes of young children, I am reminded of innocence, a state almost magical in its nature, a little piece of the universe that we all carry inside. In those eyes of those knowing children, there exists the seeds of a new way of being, a truly new and exciting beginning for us all. I was recently left with a piece of wisdom that founds its origin in the customs of ancient days long gone from the birthplace of humanity; Africa. There in many villages that are deemed to be uncivilized and barbaric in their very nature, a code of ethics that some call "Ubuntu" thrives. In its simplest manifestation, "Ubuntu" means to revere one's neighbor as one does their own sacred existence.
This is what I encourage humanity to revisit, the sacredness of our lives. Perhaps once we awaken to how truly sacred and blessed we are just to be alive, maybe then we will see a loss of interest to fighting wars. War is the antithesis of sacred. We are meant to be much more than to be expended casually by a government who care nothing of our sacrifice. We can at anytime chose to stop perpetuating such violence on to ourselves. We don't have to be what everyone else says we are! We have the power to reclaim our value. We have the power to rewrite out story to fit our balance and not that of our parents or society. We have the autonomy to create a more promising, prosperous, peaceful, loving and abundant world for our future kids and grand kids and so on. So who are we? That is completely up to you!