2nd Day of #Kwanzaa: #Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

KwanzaaDay2Habari Gani? Today’s principle is Kujichagulia. It is the principle which embodies the right to determine the destiny of the self – “To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.” This idea of the “self”, in human history, has applied just as much to the individual as it has to any collective of individuals, as has any act negating this right to determine any self’s destiny. In human society, especially in the history of the concept of individual human rights, the rights of the individual have expanded in number, ranging from the right to equal justice under law (and other expectations of treatment by the state or other prevailing collective) to the right to clean water and fair housing (and other rights to material access). But in respect to yesterday’s Umoja, collectives have often faced difficulties in their ability to collectively determine their own destiny as a group, usually facing opposition from other groups with rivalrous claims to legitimacy. Bids to form new nation-states have faced often-fatal opposition from other established nation-states or, when resorting to armed warfare to solidify their bid, have engaged in violent conflict or maintain standing militaries to protect their sovereignty. Labor unions have faced constant opposition to their existence from corporations and trade groups. (Ir)religious communities have faced physical, bloody opposition to their existences from other, more established religious groups (and single-party or single-ideology states). Demographic “suspect classes” are resented by previously-privileged classes for their demands of justice, freedom and unity. And so on… Yet, the idea that one should be able to choose one’s destiny (not negating the other principles) is an idea that is difficult, yet necessary in the name of justice, to extend to more demographics of people, both individual and collective. Kujichagulia – whether it manifests in choosing what to wear today or choosing what to create tomorrow – places responsibility for how to conduct or govern one’s life with the self, not with an unwilled, nonconsensual third party. Our ability to exercise kujichagulia, however, depends largely on the freedom and dignity which are expected in a society, or in our world at large. If we don’t take the initiative to guarantee the platforms for self-determination within a peaceable, amicable framework which respects our individual (and shared) identities and experiences, then we are not a free community. Let’s be a free, responsible, active, just people. Let’s observe kujichagulia – in our lives and in the world.

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