Another year has come to an end and a new one is beginning. Traditionally, many of us will make New Year Resolutions, setting expectations and standards for ourselves in the New Year. As the champagne pops tonight, some of us will celebrate wonderful achievements in the past year and toast to the New Year with brand new goals to work towards. Then there are those of us who will be recycling last year’s resolutions, feeling somewhat bad that a whole twelve months has come and gone, and once again we are challenging ourselves not to smoke, drink less, get a job, marry, enroll to college, visit more friends, or make time for family, etc.
The truth of the matter is there are probably more of us in the latter category than the former. As humans we naturally detest failure, so when we make resolutions, our target is success. But life is naturally a gamble between failure and success. Sometimes we win and other times we lose. What matters most in these situations is our resolve to change whatever we deem worthy of change for the better in our lives. My personal mantra in life is to aspire to become the better of me daily.
As the French saying goes, l’homme propose Dieu dispose, Man proposes God disposes. As humans, we can only do what is within our power to do. That is, we can offer our utmost best to the challenges we face and take proactive efforts to straighten the rough edges of our lives. There will be failures along the way, but the ultimate measure of character is not how often we succeed, but our ability to learn from failure.
I do not make New Year Resolutions because I believe that mine would be more like a thesis every year, but I do live by the aspiration to become the better of me daily. However, a few friends both young and old died this year, and that enforced by belief in cherishing every moment of life and loving my friends and family more. I have come to realize, as Elie Wiesel puts it, that “friendship is even more important in a man’s life than love.” My hope is to cultivate more friendship this New Year and to avail myself to those I love.
For those who would take my two-penny worth of advice, please avoid envy, for that has become a major obstacle to social progress in modern society. Let us all learn to be content with what we have and share with those who have nothing. Poverty is horrible and wealth can be good. Let it be “incumbent upon the rich to aid those in need, as it is incumbent upon the poor to accept without envy those more fortunate than they.”2 My word is that we learn to live by that good old African value of Ubuntu-a fundamental belief that I am because you are. Thus, our lives are intertwined for the advancement and betterment of community.
To achieve the summum bonum that is ubumbu, Desmond Tutu tells us to be “open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they are less than who they are.” Therefore, as you raise your drinks tonight, I pray that our next year will be devoted to achieving universal ubuntu.
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Tags: "joseph kaifala" "new year resolution" "new year" ubuntu "desmond tutu"
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