Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, grab a comfortable seat, and plate a few cacao benne (pronounced “benny”) cookies. How was your year? Since the time I’ve learned 14 isn’t my favorite number, I’ve cautiously waited for the year of 2014. It’s a painfully honest number. And, when the clock turned 2014 in the midnight hour on January first, I said a silent prayer. God help us. And, as I’ve imaged, this year is a roller coaster of emotions. Russia. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ebola in West Africa. Mike Brown and other victims of the police. Family members passing. By the time summer arrived, my stomach was jumping to the tune of “War” sung by The Temptations. Since the beginning of human relationships, I’m sure there’s a country or region involved in a war somewhere around the globe. Perhaps, due to my sensitivity to 14, this year’s wars and conflicts deeply troubled me. It’s 2014 communicating, “War… What is it good for?… absolutely nothing…”
Nothing. It doesn’t solve any problem. It doesn’t matter who wins, because the winner is (hopefully) responsible for decades of physical and emotional cleansing. The sad part of the conflicts that made the front-page news, was how eerily familiar they were to pass problems. People don’t want to learn. Even as a cab driver gleefully proclaimed, “My generation will be the ones to solve today’s problems.” I silently wished him well. He remained me of my youthful self in the 20s. I hope he’s right this time, but he has thousands of generations with similar optimistic expectations.
What is it about us that refuses to learn about the past to avoid deadly repetitive problems? The irony of conflicts is if governments spent money on education instead of war machines, many of the world’s problems, such as sexism, racism, and classism, would be eradicated. Why do we have to fight for the right to live, learn and make choices?
Before 2014 comes to an end, I’m happy to celebrate Kwanzaa this year. It’s a week-long spiritual cleansing of talking about our lives around the seven principles after the indulgence of Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you’re new to reading MyLifeRunsOnFood.com, please be aware, most of my work in December is found at Kwanzaa Culinarians.
Kwanzaa isn’t ‘another exhausting holiday.’ For me, it’s not necessary to redecorate a living space, buy gifts, eat enormous celebratory meals or have an elaborate ritual. All it requires is a daily observation of how Kwanzaa principles affect our lives, community, and global awareness. Writing this warms my heart as Michael Jackson’s, “Man in a Mirror” circles in my head.
In reality, when the clocks chime 2015, the world’s problems will continue its vicious circle. Despite 2014 being painfully honest, I’m learning it’s full of love. After all, the ones who dearly love us the most, tell the truth. It’s what we do afterward that make a difference. Habari Gani 2014.