A Binder full of Ubuntu

“We need to learn that unleashing the power of women has the potential to transform our world in extraordinary and many as yet unimagined ways” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I did not watch last night’s debate.  Nor did I watch last weeks…or the one before that.  Several pundits in criticizing the Romney-bot, summed up this phase of thecampaign very well in stating that this is all about salesmanship.  We are being force fed a choice between two parties that both have fairly icky records, not just in recent history, but throughout the history of their existence.  I will not watch the next debate.  I have chosen my candidate based on a combination of personal feeling, aspirations for our society, political and social record and what I see as a viable and sustainable future for the United States on a global stage.  This blog is not about endorsing “my” candidate (although I’m sure it will be pretty obvious who that is.) Rather, this entry is about the total audacity of placing not just women but anyone in a binder.

If I were asked to come up with 10 friends who were attorneys, at least half of them would be women.  If I were asked to come up with 10 friends who were artists, half of them would be white.  If I were asked to come up with 10 friends who were in the church, half of them would be latino, and so on.  I wouldn’t have to try to fill these demographic quotas, it is simply the color, shape and size of my world; what/who they are is secondary to why they are in my life.  When I hear that a Governor-elect had to “search” for qualified candidates to fill his cabinet so that it didn’t just look like a white male house of mirrors, it says more about how truly whitewashed his world is.  Not to mention the god complex of idly leafing through a binder that says “women” or “blacks” or “Jews” to carefully place these poor underlings in key spots because otherwise they wouldn’t be there.

Yuk.

This morning, I’ve been reading and listening to the words of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.  My word for the day is Ubuntu.  Not the computer operating system (thank you Dad) but the southern African philosophy:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from 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. – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

This is the cornerstone of everything I believe and everything I believe our world actually aspires to be.  In one of his addresses, Archbishop Tutu mentions how Western capitalism has often highlighted the antithesis of this concept, stressing individual wealth, success and position.  It is therefore no wonder that our hearts are empty and that our communities fail…we are working against nature in the most basic sense.  I’m not talking about the dictates of any one scripture or theology, for these will never all agree.  Although they are all the word of God (if we believe as such), we must first understand ourselves as part of a great interdependent existence before we can get to that God, by whatever name we call God.

We have a tremendous opportunity in our world.  We have come to an age of re-enlightenment where science has taken us so far that we are now coming full circle.  We are not satisfied by reducing and reducing life from tissue, to cell, to molecule, to atom, proton, electron, quark…no, not satisfied.  Even the greatest scientific minds of our time get to a point where they say “we don’t know” and more and more of us are okay with that.  Instinctively, we know as human beings that there is a level on which we function that cannot and will not be explained by a formula.  It is the “knowing that he or she belongs to a greater whole” that cannot be quantified.  Some call this spiritual connection, some call it Ubuntu and some even dare to call it love.

Personally, I am thrilled to live in a world where all women…cisgendered, trans, lesbian, queer, etc. do not live in files.  Where I know that every day and every moment of my life is intertwined with theirs and affirmed by theirs and where we aspire to hold each other up and celebrate our greater whole as one humankind.  Let us strive to live today and every day with our own personal and cultural Ubuntu. Whole and connected human capital is the only really valuable commodity we have.

3 thoughts on “A Binder full of Ubuntu

  1. I love this post and I do believe I, too love the word Ubuntu. I love to say it but I LOVE it’s definition. This has been my latest revelation that we are all one and when we all realize that it will be such a better world. I have believed all of it for some time. Thank you for putting it into such eloquent words.

  2. Interesting how those of us who have always had a wide range of friends, acquaintances, and relationships don’t usually have to SEARCH to find a specific type of person around us. They are already there. I was chatting about a similar subject yesterday.
    While talking with a photographer from Israel I admitted that, though I’m fairly well educated, I was surprised how old I was before I realized how small the Jewish population is. It seems there have always been a larger percentage of Jews in my circle than in the general population. But it never occurred to me to check.
    The thought of having to ‘go look for’ something as prevalent as ‘women’ is astonishing to me. And while I understand we’re talking about specific types of jobs in a Governor’s cabinet, it still would seem that by the time one arrives at that place, there would have been numerous capable women in one’s circle by then.

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