I’ve lost count of what day it is, but I know it’s week 3 of the #WinterABC202022 Storytelling Festival so I’ll work with that. I did not know consistency in content creation was this difficult, but then I’ll keep trying despite the burn out. The target for this week is to write all five articles which means that I’ll have to publish on Saturday and Sunday as well. I’m all in for Stories of Awareness, and I love the diversity and range in the theme, so I do not think I’ll run out of topics to spread awareness on.
It’s always funny on Twitter when people tweet about stuff being loved at home. Harmless and funny as they may seem the statement “You are loved at home” and the question “Are you loved at home/ Is everything ok at home?” are way more important than the banter that we think they are. Homes are the first and foremost environment in which we are introduced to human interaction, then later the workings of the world. As a result, they are the primary place in which we learn self love, and how to interact with those around us. Creating loving environments is not only limited to the home, but most definitely that is where the blue print is created (apart from therapy and rigorous work on self).
Homes should be places of love and warmth, but somewhere along the line we get the memo wrong. Growing in a place where love is lacking negatively impacts the manner in which one carries themself, and their outlook towards life in general. Most insecurities and negative behaviors can be traced to the environment in which one was raised (schools, churches and communities involved). Over time I have wondered just how do we extend grace and ensure that the air around us is filled with love. When people grow up in a burning house, they believe the entire world is on fire. On the inside, they’re just scared, neglected, and unloved small kids who grow up to choose destruction.
To a great extent we are responsible for allowing people to love themselves. Our actions and words shape the people around us, especially if they are young and looking up to us. It is in those moments what moving with intention is pertinent. The words we say matter, our actions do too, and the manner in which we communicate. Matters like self image hinge upon what the people around you think and see how they act towards you. How one perceives themselves is influenced by the environment in which they grow in and so in a negative environment one is bound internalize these things, and then go on to spread such negativity. Where it concerns matter such as body image, intelligence, communication humanity and kindness transcends all man made standards. Individuals practicing self love can only go so far in a culture that incessantly rebuts them.
There is cognitive dissonance in homes that claim the existence of love but are strongly informed by patriarchy. From the get go, we have to be clear that love and abuse cannot coexist and that where domination is present, love is lacking (cheers bell hooks). Typically in African homes, love is present by virtue of the sacrifices made by your parents towards your education, daily chores and future goals which is very unfortunate as it stems from the demands of capitalism. However there is need to strike a balance in fulfilling these capitalist needs and the emotional ones. Without a safe space to grow, learn and thrive we are extending the harm and churning broken individuals into the world. Unkind people aren’t born that way, at the bottom of it lie several emotional needs that are unmet, and human induced insecurities about themselves hence they view and interact with the world from that particular perspective.
Whether we learn to love ourselves and others will depend on the presence of a loving environments. Self-love cannot flourish in isolation.bell hooks (All About Love)
It is unfortunate that for the greater part due to patriarchy, we lack models of healthy love, family, communication etc. We live in a culture of dominance in which the most important thing is power. Now how does love thrive in such environments wherein pride, power and the ego are the most important things? Even within homes exist power struggles, we go out into the world and further propagate these agendas. As Comrade Damburanduwe always says: Charity anotangira paden. (English version: Charity begins at home.) Perhaps a starting point could be viewing children as autonomous bodies and taking it from there (what do I know 💀, I’m just an observer). Work on modeling healthy communication, practice love in word and action. Reimagine interactions with more kindness, less subjugation. When we go out into the world, we replicate the behaviors we have grown seeing, accept what we think is love as a result of what we are exposed to. We need to do better, for ourselves especially, and those who come after us. We build families from individuals, societies from families and nations from societies.