Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Here at Prescott College this term “ubuntu” is being used more often. Technically it is a shortened phrase for “Umuntu ngumuntu ngamantu” a Zulu philosophy that is quite savvy in my opinion. If I am asked to explain ubuntu in my own words I generally say that it is compassion and altruism all rolled into one philosophy/practice/perspective.
But I’m not looking to articulate this in a blog, so here is something from Archbishop Desmond Tutu which might articulate this better than I can!
"Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, "Yu u nobuntu"; "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 what is yours." …We say, "A person is a person through other persons." …A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. ...To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. What dehumanizes you inexorably dehumanizes me. [Forgiveness] gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from "No Future Without Forgiveness" (1999)
I love you Tutu! The picture below I found on the internet, and thought it was adorable. And then the more I read it… the more Prescott College it felt than something with religious connotations. Here at Prescott we are not about punishing people instead we are all about celebrating people; hence why I find ubuntu so amazing and pertinent in just about any human scenario.
The very first line of Prescott College's Mission Statement reads: "It is the mission of Prescott College to educate students of diverse ages and backgrounds to understand, thrive in, and enhance our world community and environment."
Ubuntu is all about taking the diversity of perspectives, thought, speech, actions, and re-actions (of each person) and using them to work together (rather than against) with each beautiful and diverse member of our community. By sharing our human experience we can help each other understand, thrive, and enhance ourselves and all of our environment.
Prescott College is a place where I can cultivate ubuntu in my own life; and I love it!
at 9:06 AM