Ubuntu...

I read this story today about an anthropologist who proposed a game to the children in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the children that who ever got to the tree first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said: ''UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?'' because 'UBUNTU' in the Xhosa culture means: "I am because we are."

This story touched a place in my heart and, maybe, made me look at my place in my world. Am I because we are? I am not sure that I can say that it's true right now. Am I part of the team?

Ubuntu means that we are all interconnected, that we can't exist as a human being without others. Ubuntu gives us our human-ness. A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming, and doesn't feel threatened that others are able and good. A person with Ubuntu recognizes that we are part of a greater whole.

I look at my life right now and wonder, "Have I been a person with Ubuntu?" I am not sure I have. I have been swept away by frustration, anger and fear. I have looked upon situations in which I have no control, tried to find my niche...my control. I have felt jealousy and anger. I have chosen sides. I have become a person who speaks out against others instead of uniting and letting petty differences become chasms that are so large that there is no bridge to cross. This is not the person I want to be. I want to have peace in my life.

I want my world to be filled with joy, harmony. I want to be looked upon as a person who leads with joy, not pettiness and anger. I want to look beyond those things in others that I feel I can't work with and find a way to work with them. I want to build bridges, not walls. I want to find my Ubuntu. I want to be interconnected, to feel the ebb and flow of the uniting spirit. I want to look at others who are good and able and encourage them to build on their greatness and know that I am part of their tribe. I want us all to run to the spoils together and relish the rewards.

I want my students to see themselves as part of a world that is interconnected. It is not about climbing upon each other's necks to reach the top but rather seeing how we can help those around us join us there. Our victory can foster another's, bring hope. If I do not practice Ubuntu, how can I expect my students to feel that connectedness in a place that is so disconnected. How can I ask them to cross the bridge in a place they only see walls.

My journey, this journey of self-examination and work that I have undertaken requires more than myself to find true success, because true success for myself would mean success for others as well. I need to be aware of the moves and steps I take, so I can see how those moves are rippling out to others. How does it affect them? To be self-aware, I must see the entire world.

I must be a person with Ubuntu...

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