Monday, May 07, 2007

Great Imperative Meme

I have been tagged by Geoffrey Philp concerning the “great imperative.” He is asking the question, what is the great imperative of my life? This is a great meme because it really made me think. As Arsenio Hall would say, it’s one of those things that make you go…hmmmmmm? Well, everyone gather around.

My greatest imperative in life has always been knowledge of self. I have always wanted to know who I am. This quest for knowledge started as a child when I would ask my grandmother dozens of questions about our family and the existence of God. My grandmother could talk about God all day, but family knowledge went back only a few generations. I would gain knowledge of and fall in love with the knowledge of my African ancestry after I was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1988. I was living in New Haven, Connecticut in the spring of 1988 when I entered a shop that sold African inspired books, incense and art. I inquired about some of the things I saw there and the shop attendant began to speak about Africa and the African American experience. I listened intently and held onto every word as he continued for what seemed like an hour. In the end, I was amazed at how much I didn’t know. I left that shop with a renewed sense of self and a thirst to find out more. I’d like to think I was reborn that day. I felt proud. I felt African. I felt powerful!

It’s amazing what knowledge of self can do. In retrospect, that moment helped me to understand the system of slavery in early America and why the US government felt it necessary to strip the captured Africans of their names, languages and overall knowledge of culture. They understood that knowledge was/is power. They knew that knowledge would only impede their mission to exploit and enslave the African. So, my great imperative has been to spread the knowledge that exists in the African Diaspora as often as I can. This blog has been a great catalyst for the dissemination of that knowledge. It has been a blessing. This leads me to something far greater; I can do nothing without the goodness and grace of God. He guides my spirit and gives me direction everyday. He leads me to the knowledge and grants me the wisdom to present it. So, I give thanks. I open this tag up to anyone who wishes to share their “great imperative.” Thanks again, Geoffrey. I enjoyed this. Peace~

Art by: Jonathan Green, Tales, 1988
Oil on masonite, collection of Richard Weedman


Geoffrey Philp said...

Stephen, your blog and your enthusiasm certainly accomplish these goals. I wish you all the success possible, my brother.

One love,

Stephen A. Bess said...

I accept it and claim it. Thank you. :) ~One love

Rethabile said...

That's a great imperative, and I agree with every word, especially where you say that, stripped of the knowledge of self, one loses direction and origin. Great.

I loved this meme, too.

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thank you brother. Unfortunately, the effects of that cultural eradication is still prominent in American culture. There are far too many black people in America who don't know or don't care where they come from. They don't understand the power it has.

Sheba Brooks Moore said...


This was great...I learned a new word today "meme"...It really touches on my last entry...I wanted to also mention how powerful are dna is...and how it is a recorder of tradition, trauma, and history...and how nothing is ever lost...our power is innate we just need to recognize it...alot of us are detached from it...

p.s I edited my last many mispellings!


Writing on Board said...

Nice...and...Arsenio? You do know it's 2007, right? I finally figured out what to get for the man who has everything...cable TV.

Crankyputz said...

Thanks for letting us be part of your journey..

Stephen A. Bess said...

I really like the way you think. I didn't notice the mistakes. I think that my mind corrects them as I read. :)Thank you for those wise words.

LOL!! That made me laugh out loud. I know. I'm making this old reference to the 90's. :)Thanks bro!

I'm happy to have you along. :)

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite things about the French language (besides its beauty) is that it has a tense called "imperative". It's not simply action, but directed action.

Go to the store. Run around the block. Find your history.

Sounds like you've found God's voice in the imperative of your life.

Don't know if that made sense, but it did to me! :)

black feline said...

the question itself is a "great imperative"...thought provoking nonetheless!
Just to add no way patronising..thru your blog..i see someone who loves life to the fullest!

Stephen A. Bess said...

It makes perfect sense because I wouldn't know what to do or where to go without that voice. Thank you for that. :)

Thank you. I do love life. It's this world that gets me down sometimes, but life and all that is possible is what I love.

Cergie said...

Bonjour, stephen, that's a nice and interesting message
It's always a good think to know where we are coming from so we are more able to know where we are going to
The pcture, as the one i comented before is so colorful
It is very beautifuller on the black background
Black like Africa doing all colors beautifuller

Stephen A. Bess said...

Thank you! I agree. We should always give honor to our ancestors by acknowledging our origin. If we forget that then we forget them.

get zapped said...

Stephen, this is eloquent and honest. A lovely story of rebirth. I admire your quest for knowledge of self, it's not always an easy path, but you seem to move along smoothly and I honor you for your dedication and faith.

Stephen A. Bess said...

Get Zapped-
Thank you. It's my unquenchable thirst. :)

Icarus said...

Hi Mr B, a little late, but then I don't get out to play in blogland too often these days. I gained a lot by stopping by for this piece, though, so beautifully articulated. It resonates strongly with me, your quest, though our roots are very different. but maybe because of what history has done to both our peoples, I too was born with those questions, that quest that burns like a ceaseless, unquenchable fire. We have it for life, my friend, you know that.
But only now do I see how it also resonates strongly with a line in something I've posted today that I'd love for you to come read and share. To see if you can identify that line! The music may change but the song remains the same. All strength to you, Mr B.

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