Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building!
A few weeks ago, while attending a seminar on human rights, I was engaged in an emotive conversation on discrimination and its often-ugly manifestations. We talked about religion, race, age, sex. As one might expect, it was a highly polarized discussion.
For the most part, I was silent. I felt alienated, like an outsider looking in. It was like a scene at a dance party: everyone seemed to be listening and moving to the same beat, and I to a completely different one. I felt completely disoriented, not because I did not understand the topic of discussion or was uncomfortable with it. In fact, during Seminar One of the Acumen Fellowship, we had an engaging 2-day session on human rights and freedom. Unpacking the Good Society Readings, we read and discussed controversial readings from Plato and Aristotle, Lee Kuan Yew and Martin Luther King. Rarely had I felt so intellectually engaged and invigorated.
So what had been the biggest difference between the two forums?
As I contemplate this question now, I realize how very privileged I am to be part of the 2014 cohort of Acumen Fellows. Because therein lies the answer. You see, Acumen has a pulse – a regular, steady, reassuring pulse. It breathes life, feeling and emotion into every idea, every individual and every business that comes into contact with it.
That is what was missing from the seminar on human rights a few weeks ago. I felt alienated from that discussion precisely because it gave me no life, no emotion, no purpose. Where it should have left me challenged and inspired, it left me frustrated and alienated. If the popping veins and jabbing fingers were any indicator, it certainly had a pulse that others found invigorating. But it was a pulse alien to me, far removed from what I have come to identify with as my source of life.
I first came across Acumen’s pulse through the phrase Moral Imagination. Described as ‘the humility to see the world as it is and the audacity to imagine it as it could be’, it is a phrase that has completely shifted my thinking. The two-word concept gives life to my purpose and catapults me into a new world of possibility. It challenges me to stop making excuses and to get on with what needs to get done.
I dare to believe in possibilities, in a world that could be. I dare to ask more of myself, of others, of the universe. More importantly, I dare to share and influence others with this new powerful self that the Acumen fellowship has nurtured to life.