Ubuntu: “I am because we are.”
Ubuntu described beautifully in several blogs by the following story:
A researcher placed a basket of fruit by a tree, then challenged a bunch of children to race to the tree, the winner would win the basket of fruit. The children responded by holding hands then running to the tree together where they sat down and shared out the fruit. The researcher asked the children why they had done this as the winner could have taken the fruit for themselves as the winner of the race, the children responded, “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”
Ubuntu means in the Xhosa tribal culture “I am because we are.” The Xhosa are a tribal culture in the south-east of South Africa who include famous members such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Ubuntu places otherness above the individual, thus they say:
“I am happy, because you are happy. “
Contrast this statement with the outlook of cultures such as the UK and the USA:
“X is happy even if Y is unhappy.”
“X is happy after exploiting Y, leaving Y unhappy.”
Ubuntu is a philosophy worth knowing about as it is an ideal of community. I support the belief that community is the basic building block of civilisation, if the global system collapses, as longs as the community is strong, the members of the community stand a higher chance of surviving any crisis. Ubuntu is the foundation stone of a strong community. There is also an argument that ubuntu transcends all human boundaries, though I am unsure if this is merely wishful thinking on the part of those outside of the Xhosa culture.
Although the ubuntu philosophy is beautiful I am a realist, since I live in a Western-modern paradigm that places value on individuality that exploits fellow human beings and nature for its own gain. If I was to practice ubuntu, every parasite in my community would exploit, abuse and misuse me.
I aspire to ubuntu, but I have strict boundaries, and a gateway policy as to who I work with, which prevents parasites exploiting me. One boundary is the trade contract, each side brings something of benefit to the table, and everyone leaves the table a winner.
In an ideal ubuntu culture everyone trusts each other. The modern culture of the UK and USA encourages exploitation for personal gain, mistrust, spying on each other and every type of parasitic behavior imaginable, which requires a certain misanthropic reality check to survive being destroyed by it. For humanity to survive they must adopt ubuntu otherwise humanity must go extinct.