Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to the Jali Podcast, I’m your host, Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion, and equity. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share, or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started.
This week I figured I’d do a quick mini episode, and as you know I love talking about the Kwanzaa principles. Purpose is the fifth principle of Kwanzaa, Nia and African tradition tells us that our main purpose in life is to bring good into the world. If you do good things your life has purpose. Nia, or purpose, is a commitment to the collective vocation of building, developing, and defending our community, its culture, and history, in order to regain our historical initiative and restore our people to their traditional greatness. Add to the good and beauty in the world we have a collective vocation, but we should try to understand our legacy while building our own. Join in and define our own personal and social purpose.
Our role in the world is a significant one, especially as we share in the human legacy Africa has given to the world. As Mary McLeod Bethune says, “We are heirs and custodians of a great civilization. We must understand our history and the significance it has on humankind while creating our own contributions.” More simply, it’s living on purpose, with intention, while lifting ourselves to our traditional greatness. And yet there seems to be this strong undercurrent which has kept stories secret, changed the narrative, modified the scene and the truth. I’m interested in stories, I’m interested in understanding different perspectives, and exploring my own biased thinking. I’m interested in questioning myself to seek my own purpose, and fulfilling it before I die.
What contributions can I make? What contributions have been made? We derive purpose from cultural and historical identity. Are my words consistent with my deeds? Are my priorities reflective of my values? Am I transcending self interest? Am I realizing my purpose? Am I doing enough to honor the sacrifices of others? Do I have a plan for the future, and am I willing to help others succeed? Exactly what does great look like to me? Am I striving for greatness? What I know is that life changes you. Certainly this pandemic changed me. Has your purpose changed? My purpose has become more focused. My intentions have been more purposeful throughout the pandemic, and I’ve learned to leap with faith and embrace the principles in a way I had not realized in my earlier years.
Years ago my focus and my purpose was to live in a place of peace with a spirit of excellence. I think I was in my thirties when I wrote that. My father taught me, as he was diagnosed with cancer, that every day is another day to celebrate, and I want to make every day count. He also used to tell me that everyone has the same 24 hours in the day, and he used to often compare my day to what the day of the president looked like to encourage me to get myself straight, create my intentions and priorities, work hard and serve my community. Now while my purpose is similar, I want to ensure that I’m pushing myself to be more impactful. I want my purpose to feel like I’ve contributed to restoring my people to their traditional greatness, building, developing and defending our community, being a keeper of the culture, and adding to the good and beauty in the world. That’s my purpose, what’s your purpose? Feel free to share yours.
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