Ubuntu, the magic of real connection,“and I Love that”
In Botswana I was introduced to the philosophy of Ubuntu. Loosely translated it means “I am because we are” – it’s the concept of being self through others.
Included within this philosophy is the concept of restorative justice, a means of resolving issues through listening, learning, accepting responsibility, compensation and moving forward from an agreed resolution.
When I think of some of the major issues within UK society right now, recently this has been about our need as men to listen and learn from the experience of being female in our society, I can’t help but think we could use a little Ubuntu. We need to remember what it is to truly hear, to take responsibility, and to connect with the experience of others in order for us to grow as people and foster a sense of true community, and connection. To move from me, to we. And not just the people we know or care about but we as a whole of humanity, in all it’s diverse glory.
Within a system of Ubuntu, among people such as the community I spent a bit of time with in Botswana, humans still do things that hurt people, they’re human. However the practise of sitting down; victim, perpetrator and community, listening to the impacts of an action, learning from them, and moving forwards has significant societal bond and responsibility strengthening outcomes, and is a place of safe education.
A few months ago I was listening to a podcast (awful but I can’t remember who it was and I can’t find it!) about how to evolve out loud, how to show-up. One of the key messages I loved within the show was adding the phrase “and I love that” to pretty much anything you like.
I’ll demonstrate: “I’m too old to learn to Surf. And I love that”. The original statement, without the “and I love that”, (one I believed a few years ago before just getting on with it) was defeatist, gave the power to someone or something else and left me exactly where I was. By adding “and I love that” it became mine, and actually made me feel like a bit of a bad-ass!
Here’s another one: “I’m ashamed of my actions towards women in my life. When I was a teenager and my bad-ass mother called men out for cat-calling in the street, I was embarrassed by her and asked her to be quiet. As an adult I have done the same and similar things with partners, not just in terms of men’s abuse of women but in terms of racism. I’m ashamed I haven’t been a better ally for women. And I love that." Obviously I don’t love what I have or haven’t done, and that's not all I'm ashamed of in this space either... I'm sure you get the gist – but I do love the fact I’m (finally) willing to be ashamed as, in the example of Ubuntu and its restorative justice, I’m putting myself in a position of openness to listen, to learn, and to act anew . Not only with others, but with the truth within me.
If we’re to make progress in enabling all people within society to live their true selves safely and without prejudice, we’re going to need a lot of listening. And we're going to need to show-up. It's not always comfortable, it's often confronting, but it's real.
As humans there is great responsibility in the magic of human connection. The Ubuntu “I am because we are” is all about love, human connection and owning our place not only as I, but as we. The magic of this real human connection sets us free to be the “I am”. To “just do right” as Maya Angelou said.
That’s what The Living Project’s all about, whether it’s a Wild24, a podcast or one of our plans in progress, we’re all about creating the space to listen; to ourselves, to others and to the planet, in order to build compassion for all three. And I love that.