There is an African philosophy called Ubuntu that has been on my mind lately.  It means “I am what I am because of who we all are”.

Desmond Tutu has this to say about it:

“It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”

Essientially, ubuntu means realizing that we are all connected and that our actions really do affect others.  One very sad truth that I am coming to realize is that in general, people are apathetic.  This seems to be especially true of my generation.  We don’t care that a million children in Malawi are orphans or that most of them will go without a meal today.  We don’t care because we have never experienced this tragedy first hand and it simply does not affect our everyday life.  If everyone was to adopt the philosophy of Ubuntu this attitude would be drastically changed.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the idea of Ubuntu exactly means but it seems infinitely important to me that we understand how connected we are as a human family.  “I am what I am because of who we all are”.


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