Ubuntu: I Am Because of You

world-peace-in-our-handsUbuntu is the African word that means “I am because of you.” It captures the idea that we are inextricably bound together.

I came across this word in a lovely TED talk by Boyd Varty, a South African whose family knew and housed Nelson Mandela when he was released from prison. By chance, Mr. Varty was scheduled to give his TED talk on the very day of Nelson Mandela’s death.

This talk expresses our interconnectedness so poignantly through simple stories that I’m happy to share it with you.

Reflecting on Unbuntu

This talk left me thinking about the idea of practicing ubuntu — consciously recognizing the ties between us and acting on them. Offering a helping hand to someone struggling up the subway stairs when I might have simply walked by. Or reaching out to neighbor who could use a friendly call. Or giving a friend some fragrant Amaryllis, as I did today.

All it seems to take is a little shift of mind, from me to you. And really, is there a difference? After all, I am because of you.

For another remarkable and touching tribute to Nelson Mandela, watch this.

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Practice a Little Ubuntu in Your Life

Go out of your way to help someone a bit today. Strangers or friends, it doesn’t much matter. Just soften your sense of being apart and distinct from others and think of yourself as being inextricably intertwined.

How do you translate the idea of “Ubuntu” in your life. Please share your thoughts in the comments.