Wellness Language: Ubuntu
“I am because we are.”
Hello Tribe Gazette, we are experiencing big and small changes. Our lives are lived with more daring relief. Some of us feel stuck or upside down, while others in our community take the opportunity to find ways to meet our own needs and those of others. I’m so happy that I can offer support for our well-being from the start, writing a monthly column dedicated to unleashing the best in ourselves, allaying anxieties, focusing on what allows the blessings to flow. Some of you might recognize me from my past stint with Upbeat Times in Santa Rosa. It folded in September 2020, when I was due to start my ninth year. I am delighted to get back in the saddle.
This month, I’m sharing a concept I learned during the early days of this pandemic. It benefits our sense of belonging, connection, and basic mental health. I was listening to the recording of a week-long meeting between the Dalai Lama and his inimitable close friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It was the occasion of His Holiness 80th birthday. They each inspire me, and together they are utterly delicious! Not only wise, kind, supportive (even when they disagree on certain things), but comical, irreverent, giggling and laughing often during the recording of their project titled, The Book Of Joy…
Joy? When the world is upside down ?! Absoutely! Above all! And I point my finger at a new word that I learned from Archbishop Tutu, from his native Africa. It’s a Zulu concept, ubuntu. Apparently it’s a bit tricky to translate into English, this philosophy of life that says we couldn’t even be humans without others showing us and teaching us how. “I am, because we are” invokes a spirit of community in which our interdependence takes center stage. Ubuntu values everyone and invites each of us to find and offer our special ways of loving, caring and helping. It honors and cherishes the impulse to dedicate our lives to the common good, to the service of the whole, in any way we may discover. His spirit makes us open and available to one another – present, generous, hospitable.
I was touched by the Archbishop’s belief in the goodness essential to the heart of our species, just like Anna Frank despite the Holocaust. I also remembered the Bushmen of the Kalahari, how they recognize every person they meet, and again when they go their separate ways. They live in community, in tribe. No one is forgotten, no one is left behind. Each person is allowed and encouraged to offer it all in their own way. Our world has a long way to go to be capable of this spirit …
Have you also wondered what the world crisis in which we find ourselves is coming from? As we seek to understand, to define for ourselves and for each other what is going on… As we ask ourselves what we could do to help… one thing becomes clear: we need each other, and we need the best to soar like the phoenix.
Unfortunately, it often takes a crisis to admit that we need each other or feel vulnerable. Conversely, you and I are also potentially strong and resilient, capable of a big heart, kindness, generosity and creativity. Able to slip into Ubuntu. To let go and let the Creator take hold of us and show us the ways.
Ubuntu extends to all living things. And to want “all sentient beings” to be “free from suffering”. Perhaps humanity will expand our awareness of the community of living things, from the microscopic to the macro. Discover the Web of Life, as taught by our First Nations people. True connection with the Standing Tall nation (trees), the Rock / Stone people, the Creepy Crawlers, the Winged Ones, the Plant People, the Finned Ones, Mother Earth, Father Sky, Grandparents Moon and Sun… The star nation… In the Lakota or in the Ojibway language, a common greeting or prayer is the phrase “Mitakuye Oyasin”, we are all linked.
Ubuntu: I wouldn’t be human without you. My life and my well-being are inextricably linked to you, to all of us. With this awareness comes the likelihood of a more joyful, healthy, and meaningful life.
‘Until next time, may you be well!
Originally published February 2021