“Faith is the substance and spirit which makes “tired hearts refreshed and dead hopes stir with the nearness of life; faith is the “promise of tomorrow at the close of everyday, the triumph of life in the defiance of death, and the assurance that love is sturdier than hate, right is more confident than wrong, that good is more permanent than evil.”
- Howard Thurman
Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce the 7 Principles and reinforced the bonds of family and community. The Seven Principles were viewed and still remain the “moral minimum” set of values which African Americans need to strengthen and make more effective families and family systems. The values embedded in the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa are interlocking and align together and synergistically produce an outcome greater than each of the values isolated individually.
To be sure, the 7 Principles habitually default in duties and responsibilities. Duties are how the individual members of the family and community see their socio-ethical roles in relation to the interest and welfare of others and responsibilities are the reciprocal obligations these members have to each other.
Imani/Faith is the bedrock principle, anchoring us in our beliefs and assumptions, and making us more hopeful about ourselves and the possibilities of life. Mary McLeod Bethune teaches us that “Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.” Moreover, faith is the intangible which manifest itself in the continuous striving against insuperable odds, providing encouragement and hopefulness where it seems unwarranted. It is the human substance which makes us more hopeful. Both faith and hope sustain life and allow us to see with beyond the immediate. Theologian Peter J Gomes states:
Faith and hope gives us the “greatest sense of the whole to the believer, who in this world can see only in part, as in a distorted mirror of the sort found in carnival fun houses, in which what you see is real but not really real, for all the proportions are wrong. The way to see things whole, the way to live wholly and not in part, the way for past and present and future to make some semblance of sense for those who have to keep these dimensions together, is through the more excellent way and the higher gifts of faith and hope.
Again, to be sure, faith engenders hope, and hope reinforces faith. Both have been the engines of promise and prospect for African Americans. The infamous The Dred Scott decision, declaring that all blacks- those enslaved as well as those who were free -were not and could never become citizens of the United States, was a cause for despair. In response to this decision, Frederick Douglass would do his customary thing: He would begin with hope in his speeches, uttering “I walk by faith and not by sight.” He endeavored to make the argument to blacks, that no matter how bleak the present situation, they had a future in America.
The Imani/Faith principle provides us moral agency and collective efficacy. The African American experience is full of examples of unconditional faith in the capacity and will of blacks to overcome and achieve in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Our forefathers and foremothers who were enslaved had an unyielding faith that heaven and history were on their side, anticipating Martin Luther King statement on justice: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
In a word, the Imani/Faith principle is central to helping those blacks who are in unbearable situation and who face the ugliness of day-to-day life. This is the principle that black children and youth will need to, as the song says “Keep on Keeping on.”
In sum, during Kwanzaa, families and others take inventory and discuss how they have practiced the principle of Imani/Faith, and what they will do in the coming year (recommitment) to practice the principle Imani/Faith in their daily lives.