I heard a story a while back that I thought should be a column. It’s kind of cool, and I believe, with a little wordsmithing, that it will illustrate perfectly what I’m trying to get across to you all. In order to understand, you’re going to need to understand the term “Ubuntu” …
Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]) is a Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity." It is often translated as "I am because we are," or "humanity towards others," or in Xhosa, "umntu ngumntu ngabantu" but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity."
So the story goes that there were these Christian Missionaries in Africa, visiting an indigenous tribe. The language barrier had, to some extent, been broken, and the missionaries were helping the tribe through showing them better farming practices, how to build wells and irrigation, and teaching school for their children. The children all hung out together after school, and one of the missionaries that was watching after them devised a race. He told the kids that the first one to reach the Kapok tree (the largest tree in the area) would win a basket filled with chocolate and other candy. The kids were ecstatic – most had never tasted candy in their entire lives. The missionary lined them all up at the “starting line” and said “Ready, Set, Go!!”…
As soon as he said go, the children all grabbed each others’ hands, and TOGETHER they all ran to the Kapok tree.
The missionary was puzzled. There were kids that could run WAY faster than others, yet with such a special prize to be had, they had all ran together. So the missionary asked them why. One of the children responded that they could not imagine enjoying a treat unless all their brothers and sisters could enjoy one as well. One could not be happy unless the others were happy too.
That, my friends, is the embodiment of the concept of Ubuntu.
It’s a pretty cool concept when you examine it. I am because we are. Can you imagine how cool it might be if we all embraced such a concept? I’m not talking about Socialism, or anything like that. This is more of a mindset, a belief, that together we can do so much more than we can as individuals. That we are ALL on the same team. The lowliest amongst us is just as important as the strongest. Together, we can do anything, and I think that’s an awesome concept.
The truth is, Ubuntu couldn’t be more alien to us if it landed in a UFO. Especially now. I mean, it’s November in the good ol’ US of A, and it’s 2020. Everyone is doing their own thing.
We need to believe in one another again. It really doesn’t take much to know I’m right about this. I mean, we’ve all been programmed to be go-getters able to accomplish whatever life hits us with on our own. We’ve learned to be self-sufficient. We don’t need anyone to be successful, right?
Well, as true as it may sound, I disagree. I choose to believe that it takes a village. I choose to believe that we are capable of so much more. I need to believe we can do better. We’re all stuck on this giant ball of dirt together, so why not try to take it to the next level?
Lord, I’m asking you to watch over us all this month. Keep us in your embrace. We need you more than ever before. And Lord, I am because we are. Thank you for that.
See you on the streets.