May 4, 2012

You, Me, Us, and Ubuntu

Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning humanity to others. Another beautiful interpretation, attributed to Archbishop Desmond Tutu goes, Ubuntu is not, “I think therefore I am. It says rather: “I am a human because I belong. I participate. I share.” Or more literally, "I am because you are." 

Ubuntu speaks to the heart of our essential interdependence. It's about the power we have as a collection of common humanity, to care for and about each other. It's about what happens when we touch this sense of we-ness, and use it to change ourselves and lift others up. We express it by giving of ourselves, naturally, to the rest of our community for the common good.

Ubuntu is a notion in direct opposition to the ideas of fierce independence, selfishness, I don't need anyone's help, and especially, their problems have nothing to do with me and I shouldn't get involved. Bill Clinton once said about Ubuntu, ". . . the world is too small, our wisdom too limited, our time here too short, to waste any more of it in winning fleeting victories at other people's expense." He was suggesting we need each other way more than we realize.

Ubuntu shows up in people who dedicate their lives to fighting injustice against all odds, and in some large or small way, being relentless about making a difference in the lives of people who need help and support. I've profiled many of them in these posts, especially the men who unselfishly show up for other people's sons. I consider these men my heroes. In people who give of themselves to our communities in so many ways, Ubuntu seems to be an almost instinctual and selfless commitment to others.

It often happens in times of crisis when our connection to each other rises above all the things that separate and distance us from each other. It's the call that gets the neighbors together in a flood to rescue those who are trapped. It is what's working when strangers show up to help dig out someone whose home was just blown apart by a tornado. It's a force which, if we were inclined, could go a long way to help the homeless, the hungry, schools that desperately need community support, and the thousands of young males lost on their confusing journey to manhood who are waiting for a good man to show up as a friend and guide.
Check out the video below. It's one of many powerful demonstrations of Ubuntu the United States has seen in recent times. Then stop and consider what we could accomplish in our communities if we could elicit just a little more Ubuntu.

I am a human because I belong. I participate. I share.
I am because you are.

If the clip is not visible go to THIS LINK.

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