Yesterday, I went to the university to teach my African dance classes and, as per my usual practice, I put out a tray of pastries and cookies for the students to enjoy as I have been doing for the past couple of months. One of the students said, “Nii Armah, thank you so much for sharing. But, you should be careful, because very soon people will be expecting you to continue providing these treats for them.” I replied, “Of course, they should expect that of me. They should expect that I will share as long as it is possible for me. People should expect that I will do my part, because this is something I can do. But, more than that, I expect that people will expect of themselves as well, that which they can provide for the common good.” The student was visibly taken aback and said, “Wow, Nii Armah, that is quite a perspective! That would never have occurred to me. I am so glad I asked you.” So I just took a moment to explain to her fully what I meant.
I explained that this is fundamentally natural, and one can think of it in metaphorical or symbolic terms. Just as the human body has parts, with each part playing its role. Each organ functions, for the good of the entire body, without holding back. So I expect my eyes to see the best they can. I expect my lungs to function the best they can. And all the parts of my body work together to keep me alive, to keep me functioning. None of my body parts consider their work a favor to the other; it’s just what they do.
I believe that every human being has something to offer society. Whether in their family, in the workplace, at school, or wherever we are, we as human beings, individually, have something to offer. And the health of our community is a reflection of how well we play our parts. In another sense, the sun shines all the time. And even when there are clouds the sun is still shining. And anytime the sun has an opportunity, even if it’s the smallest break in the clouds, the sun comes out screaming, “I am here!” And every plant screams toward the light of the sun, no matter where they are, they turn and shoot for the sun.
As human beings I believe we each have light, we each have radiance that is yearning to be expressed, to be shared, and each of us has an attraction to the radiance in others. Now, when we take ourselves seriously in terms of what we have to offer and express the fullness of our radiance on a daily basis we each become a blessing to our society. Now, imagine a world where we all give our best, creating a culture where the norm is that of giving. When we each tap into our higher selves by giving to the fullest of our abilities, it is no favor, it is just being. When we have fear and doubt we begin to withhold the fullness of our radiance. This perspective may seem utopian and unrealistic, but I like to think that this is an overriding principle in the larger scheme of our existence.