Maina wa Mutonya, academic (Kenya, South Africa)

A manifesto should be one’s moral compass in life. However, people blunder by trying to force their manifestos about life on others. This is one particular reason that I don’t listen to (de)motivational speakers. Within a broader context, manifestoes are just political tools with serious designs of flouting them, not following them at all. In the fast 21st century that we are living in, trying to cocoon humanity in manifestos is pure balderdash - in my view at least. The world is becoming more individualistic with each passing day. This is why I see a manifesto as a purely individual conviction. I have however fashioned my moral compass along the great poem, The Desiderata (1927), by Max Ehrmann. It can as well be my manifesto.

The Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
And listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant;
They too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are a vexation to the spirit
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
For always, there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble;
It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
For the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
Many persons strive for high ideals;
Everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
It is as perennial as the grass
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth
Nurture the strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune
But do not distress yourself with imaginings
Many fears are born out of fatigue and loneliness
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
Be gentle with yourself
You are a child of the universe,
No less than the trees and the stars,
You have a right to be here
And whether or not this is clear to you
No wonder the universe is unfolding as it should
Therefore be at peace with God,
Whatever you conceive him to be
And whatever your labours and aspirations,
In the noisy confusions of life,
Keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
It is still a beautiful world.
Be careful,
Strive to be happy.