From adults to young people, the Holiday season seems to be filled with joyous occasions and celebration. Decorations light up our homes and neighborhoods. Our days are serenaded with carols and holiday themed music. All the more, there is gleeful anticipation for parties and gatherings with friends and loved ones.
Inevitably, capitalism is front and center at this time. This can present pressure to produce and consume that often yields high stress or depression.
Not only that, grief of missing loved ones who are absent physically or mentally can impose a thread of sorrow in the collective quilt of community joy.
Through it all, unjust systems and the economy sustain themselves through the reliance of everyone acting on all of the above. This mixture of capitalistic drive, societal pressures, and human frailty can lead many to overindulge in gluttony or self-destructive forms of comfort. Things we do to mask our pain or to keep inbounds with social norms often perpetuate dysfunction. Ultimately, we lose the connection to what sustains us, and latch on to what makes us feel good.
Yet real joy is in the substance of life, it is not a moment’s reaction to our condition or material delight. As we hear so often during this season, joy to the world is the high pursuit. Nevertheless, joy to the world is void if more than half of the word lives under oppression and poverty.
So as we go about our merry way this season, let us remember to keep in practice with real joy. We can look to the African-centered principles found in our cultural and spiritual traditions. Whether we identify with Nguzo Saba (the 7 principles of Kwanzaa) or basic tenets of the Golden rule, we can BE the joy we seek.
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