Archive for November 1st, 2018

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about swimming. And, more specifically, about the beautiful spirit that accompanies participation in swim club, and in swim meets. I revealed a particular true story of a swimmer, performing with everything within him (despite lack of experience, and a diagnosed disability), and the awe inspiring response of encouragement of everyone who witnessed his race (https://itsawonderfilledlife.net/2011/05/31/why-i-love-swim-meets/).

A delightful reader left a delightful comment. Within her comment she identified what I had written about as defined in the South African word, ‘Ubuntu’.

This word, previously unknown to me, means “I am because you are.” It is a word of mutual reliance, and of healthy co-dependency … it is a concept that our independent, individualistic, self-sufficient world would not only frown at, but also discourage.

But, humanly speaking, it is a word of depth … a word of truth.

For we ARE dependent on each other …

An unborn child is dependent on it’s mother … to survive

A newborn child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers … to survive

A school aged child is dependent on it’s parents/caregivers/teachers … to survive

A teenager is dependent on their parents/caregivers/teachers/friends … to survive

An adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer … to thrive

A newlywed is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors … to thrive

A new parent is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/self-help book authors/doctor … to thrive (and survive)

A parent of a pre-teen/teen is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors … to thrive (and survive)

A middle aged adult is dependent on their family/friends/employer/spouse/doctor/self-help book authors/doctor (plastic surgeon?) … to thrive (and survive)

An aging adult is dependent on their family/friends/spouse (if still alive)/doctorS/children and … Depends … to thrive (and survive … in public)

We need each other to survive. And the more we acknowledge our need for each other, the more we change how we treat each other. Because ‘others’ are no longer ‘competition’, but teammates. And ‘others’ are not longer just ‘a person’, but they become a someone.

We will look at everyone we come into contact with as a valid, integral part of our life.

We will notice the name tag of the cashier, and call them by their name. We will hold that door for the person a few feet behind us. We will help the stranger whose arms are burdened with papers or parcels. We will say hello to a passerby, and smile to tell them it was our pleasure to cross paths with them. We will remove our fingers from the computer, and give our attention fully to our spouse, or child. We will think before we speak …

I wonder, what a day with a heart of ubuntu would look like?

To live any other way, is to live a narcissistic (ode to Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection in the water … kind of like my beast) existence.

I encourage you,

I encourage me,

to live today with ubuntu in every step!

“Ubuntu speaks of the very essence of being human.

We say “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.”

Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate.

You share what you have.

It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”

We belong in a bundle of life.

We say, “A person is a person through other persons.”

Desmond Tutu


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