NOTE: This is Part 2 of a 12-part series that defines the core elements of Black culture.
Black culture recognizes that man must strive to manifest the highest expression of Being and uses God as the archetype of how man should live.
Culture operates primarily on a subconscious level; members of a society are influenced in subliminal ways to think and behave according to prevailing customs. Leaders must know how to guide people in positive ways to produce the desired results. It’s analogous to a farmer who practices agri-culture by providing plants with the proper environment to yield maximum benefits for his family and community. In fact, “culture” is Latin for “tilling the land and preparing the earth for crops.” Thus, culture is a form of growth and development.
The most important aspect of any culture is its ability to establish and maintain peace, harmony and prosperity. The guiding principle of peace is not only fundamental to communities, societies, and nations, it is also a foundational component of man’s being. Let’s examine two existential questions:
- Who are you? You are made in the likeness of God and share in God’s attributes.
- Why are you? You have come to earth to demonstrate who you are.
The biggest problem in life is that you don’t know who you are. Throughout Ancient Egypt inscribed on the temple walls was MAN KNOW THYSELF. Knowing who and why you are gives purpose and meaning to your life.
The western mind professes a “belief” in God but has doubts through the practice of “faith-based” religions. This is substantiated by the separation of church and state, the educational system (science without God), the judicial system (capital punishment), etc. Christians, for example, believe that God punishes the sinner, we’re all born into sin, man needs to be saved, God is in the heavens, and we must pray to God for help and for our salvation.
However, the African concept of God takes the notion that “we are made in the likeness of God” as a framework for religion, spirituality and culture. We don’t “believe” in God, we seek to “know” God. We are endowed with God’s power, not to the same degree, but in the same manner. This overarching perspective of life can be seen in nearly all traditional African cultures. Religion and spirituality were the central focus of all aspects of society.
For Black people, culture can be defined as how a group of people view themselves in relation to the Supreme Being. Throughout all African cultures is the knowledge and practice that man has the attributes of God. In an African context, God serves all humanity without distinction.
If you are the likeness of God, then peace is your nature. There’s a natural urge within you to find peace and happiness. However, achieving success in life cannot come from expressing your humanity because it is flawed and ungodly. The goal of religion and spirituality is to shape your thinking and behavior to reflect that which you are – a divine being. A divine being masters his or her spirit, mind, body and soul. Only God can guarantee success in life, and it’s through your divinity that this success can be achieved.
Only God-men and God-women can create peace and harmony on earth. African spirituality is needed to restore Black people to greatness. In fact, the world needs a moral conscience and Black people hold the keys to the secrets of the mysteries of life. No one can take it away from us. The first order of business is to divorce ourselves from Western culture. Western political, economic, judicial, educational systems are antithetical to the development of Black culture.
As a divine being, the most important thing for you to understand is that it’s your nature to be at peace in all situations. Lack of peace creates inappropriate responses. Our natural response to adversity and challenge should always be peace! Since all negative emotions are unhealthy, they cannot be your part of your nature. Yet we mistakenly identify with the host of personality attributes and emotional responses that we believe defines who you are.
Since we are all destined to transcend the human stage, we are confronted with challenges that force us to respond, but not with anger, fear, worry, etc., which are all damaging to our well-being. Challenges provide opportunities for us to express divine ways of thinking and feeling. When we experience a loss or obstruction in life, it is the peaceful response that will protect our intelligence, talents and vitality needed to deal properly with the situation.
Our health, spiritual power, and wisdom is based on being at peace. Once we realize that we are under no compulsion to manifest a particular emotion in any given situation, then we discover the possibility that we can be at peace in the face of all difficulties.
Challenges in life cannot be avoided. The challenge is not the wrong that someone does to us or person we are angry with, etc., but overcoming our own negative reaction. For instance, losing your job isn’t the challenge, it’s the fears or worries about your financial situation that you must overcome. It’s a blessing to be given the opportunities to grow spiritually through adversities that help us transcend the human parts of our being. Without challenges, you would not know or have the chance to prove that you’re made in the likeness of God.
You are forged by fire. Many people claim to grow stronger and wiser by going through trials and tribulations. This can only occur by being peaceful. Sometimes when confronted with challenges or adversities, we say to ourselves and others that “Life isn’t fair,” or “I don’t deserve this…”, etc. We tend to blame other people or the situation, and we may even blame God for the problems we encounter. These thoughts and emotions indicate a lack of peace. Mastery of peace eliminates suffering in your life. If you hold on to peace through all adversities, then you will transcend suffering.
The problem is that negative emotions seem “natural” because there was never a need for you to learn them. At the very moment you indulge a negative emotion, you are depriving your brain and other vital organs of blood and energy, IQ drops, performance is degraded, reasoning ability plummets, etc. Nothing that is harmful can be considered natural. Peace protects your health and is the only legitimate response to challenges.
Ultimately, all of us have the same goal in life – to be at peace amidst all challenges. With this in mind, let’s envision a culture that supports and amplifies the concept of establishing peace through the acknowledgement of who you are and why you were born, and uses God as the benchmark for how you must live your life on earth!! This is the essence of Black culture.
The fact that most of us don’t know this is indicative of the overwhelming influence of Western culture that pervades the world. We don’t need to search diligently for proof of our peace. A bit of research into ancient African cultures demonstrates they generally thrived in peace. Ancient Egypt, for instance, lived in relative peace for two thousand years until the northern invaders began plundering the nation. Their greatest accomplishment wasn’t building pyramids and temples, it was their perpetuation of a culture of peace that led to prosperity.
As Black people, we need a roadmap for returning to our glorious past. Fortunately, our ancestors provided us with everything we need, but to reclaim it, we must return to the correct path which is peace. The more we embrace our own culture, the more assistance we will receive from our ancestors who have been patiently waiting for us to come back home.
In subsequent parts of this series, we will discuss the specific approaches that will guide us on our journey to reclaim our true culture. It’s the Blackest thing we can do for ourselves and for the world.