People like you are needed on this continent to take us to where we should be. Keep it up man!
Everything that decays becomes nourishment for a brand new life. Every ending is also a new beginning, and what is lost simply makes way for something else to be found. This is the exciting self-fulfilling prophecy of hope!
With the ongoing global economic freefall and more housing meltdown predicted for 2009, depressed consumer confidence is exacerbated by business crises and losses of personal investments and retirement accounts. All over the world, many people have reached the nadir of desperation and it appears that all our reliable strategies have failed us, leaving most people bereft of coping mechanisms or tools for survival. With fear and confusion running rampant, it is very important to cling to hope as we anticipate the challenges that confront us daily.
I am sure that the concept of hope is familiar to everyone. But today, I would like to suggest that we take this concept to another level that transcends our personal interests, and embrace an opportunity for a paradigm shift. Many successful outcomes have occurred out of a hopeful dream so let’s look at the concept more tangibly.
The following is a link to Bill Moyers’ interview with Mark Johnson, a Grammy-winning filmmaker and co-producer of a documentary entitled “Playing for Change.” This is a simple story that begins in a New York subway and spreads into schools, changing lives in the slums of South Africa. Grab your headphone and enjoy a heartwarming experience that would inspire you to hope as well. http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/10242008/watch3.html
What a palpable example of hope in action! One man’s dream for a better world can mature into a full-blown organization that spreads hope generously and lights the path for others, allowing hope to permeate their perception, their lives and world. Can you list ten things that you hope to see happen for the good of your world? Can you commit to making one of those a reality for one year? Just imagine how much your life will expand exponentially as you reach beyond your comfort zone and take your perception of hope to a higher level of action!
Some people are losing hope; the economic freefall has resulted in the suicides of some of the world’s richest people. Tuning in to the first CBS Sunday Morning program of 2009, I was happy to hear Ben Stein, the economic and political commentator, writer, actor, and attorney, offer a hopeful perspective. Stein reminded the listener that “we are not our balance sheets,” and exhorted us to remember that we are human beings with souls, content of character and the ability to love and be loved just as we are.
I believe that times like these can lead us to a more liberating kind of love – the opportunity to discover that there are real people who will still love and accept us just as we are, without judgment or conditions! A person whose self-worth is tied to his pocketbook might be his own harshest critic, donning the cloak of singular culpability for problems which he cannot control. This may sound simplistic, but we may benefit from using this time in our lives for introspection and eliminate those things that may no longer be serving us well. What a silver lining then, this breath of fresh air and hope and new beginnings. Yes, we are more than our wallets!
What is Hope, Anyway?
Webster’s dictionary defines hope as follows: “to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment. To have confidence: trust.” Hope is to look forward to with expectation and desire. What we hope for invariably determines how we act and, with hope, we can create a personal oasis of peace smack, dab in the swirl of a chaotic world. Hope does not insinuate itself upon us and yet it is ever-ready to support the transformation of our attitudes, our process of adaptation, and our renewed view of the world. Hope is convertible… a philosophical currency which is an attribute of love. It caresses gently with an essence that is imperceptible. Yet, the presence of hope as a mere bystander has enough power to manifest and fulfill our dreams. This makes hope a nontraditional paradigm for our personal human revolution or our commitment to social change. Hope is a pre-wrapped gift that we can keep or give to others, through our thoughts, words, and actions.
Neurologists are discovering that people who are hopeful may actually increase neural connections in the parts of their brains responsible for happiness. They are more peaceful, joyful, and able to withstand adversity, all of which money cannot purchase or sustain.
The Harbinger of Hope for the African Personality
Hope was an inevitable guidepost for Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream of equal rights for the African American. Hope was equally on the minds of Africa’s post-colonial ancestors as they blazed the trail for the independence of their countries throughout the continent and determined the true definition of what should constitute the African personality for all peoples of African descent.
Another dreamer, Dr. Alex Quaison-Sackey, was in the political trenches of events leading to Ghana’s independence in 1957, and later served as Ambassador as well as Ghana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In his book, Africa Unbound (of the same name as this magazine), he wrote with foresight and eloquence about the African personality. He said,
…But my view is that the people of African descent in the Western Hemisphere must, first and foremost, continue to strive for the equality that cannot be separated from human dignity, and thereby take their place as effective “first-class citizens" in the country in which they live. But during these crucial years of emergence, at least, they must maintain their bonds with Africa in order to link, and so strengthen, both Negritude and the African Personality. For there is an important two-way process involved which can be beneficial not only to the black peoples of the world but to mankind as well. The respect for each will be enhanced as the other becomes fully accepted.
This is an exciting time in history for people of the African Diaspora as the winds of change meet the season for reaping the seeds of hope that were sown by our forefathers. The pantheon of pan-African dream-weavers is filled with men and women who have worked tirelessly to elevate the lives of new generations of Africans from the Diaspora; the effects are now resonating on the continent and in the Western Hemisphere.
The two-way process of the African Personality described by Quaison-Sackey sounds as prophetic today as he may have intended it back in the early days of Ghana’s independence. In some ways, Ghana today continues to play a pioneering role in the ongoing definition of a progressive Africa. Having achieved four successive elections with an entrenched constitutional democracy, Ghana has once again successfully elected a new president, Professor John Evans Atta-Mills, who ran a campaign of change. Today, Ghana reflects a beacon of hope and serves as a regional example as described by Washington Post dotcom as follows:
“Mr. Atta Mills became the second opposition candidate to peacefully succeed an elected president since Ghana returned to democracy in 1992. A pioneer of Africa's independence movement in the 1960s, Ghana is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to accomplish that political feat.”
In America, the ascension of Barack Obama to the presidency bears epic significance to the hands of time that reach in perpetuity to all the eras when hope was a mainstay for people of color. Here now, in real time, is true evidence of hope as a political, economic and social currency for the 21st century.
On January 20, 2009, we will witness an unprecedented event – the historic inauguration of Barack Obama, son of Africa, as he becomes the first African American to be elected president of the United States. As accomplished as the President-elect is in his own right, it appears that the invisible hand of providence, propelled also by our African ancestors, has ushered in a seismic era of hope to an entire world. An era of this kind does not lend itself to human manipulation. No amount of statistics or analyses could have reversed the deft hand of Nature’s largesse.
Few predicted the Obama victory and fewer still, expected it. Well, here it is. The sun, moon and stars are all in right alignment to rectify the man-made imbalances and We The People can take a lesson in the expression, “what God has put together, let no man put asunder.”
Ms. Adjoa Acquaah-Harrison is a strategic planning and development consultant, a nonprofit fundraising executive, and a freelance writer. She is also the founder of Wingspan International U.S.A. and resides in Lexington, Massachusetts.