--Bishop Desmond Tutu
You have heard it said before that the smartest person in the room, is the room. I would like to add to that to say that the smartest person in the room is ALWAYS the children in the room! One of my favorite news segments is On the Road by Steve Hartman on the CBS network. A particular December segment moved me. Last year was marked with division and racial strife, but two beautiful little girls taught us the true meaning of UBUNTU!
Jia and Zuri attend the same pre-school and are best friends. Beyond that they call themselves twins. They are both four years old, their birthdays are practically the same date, and they are physically similar. They insist on wearing identical outfits. To these two beautiful girls, being twins means, “Similarities.” according to their moms.
At a birthday party they both attended, an older child shared that they couldn’t be twins because they had different colored skin. Through tears, little Jia said, “"You don't know what you're talking about, we're twins because we share the same soul." Yes, you heard that right. The same SOUL. This is UBUNTU- I AM Because WE Are!
There are 12 aspects of Ubuntu that directly address what must be valued and implemented during times of broken or strained relationships among individuals or communities. The Spirit of Ubuntu is to be contrasted with vengeance. It dictates that a high value must be placed on the life of a human being, each of whom must be treated with dignity, compassion, humaneness and respect. Ubuntu finds worth in the shifting from confrontation to mediation and conciliation. It dictates good attitudes, shared concern while favoring the re-establishment of harmony within relationships by restoring dignity and being careful not to ruin one another. Restoration is favored over retributive justice, allowing for those who have done harm to be enlightened and led into change of behavior rather than punishment. Conflict is to be handled face to face encouraging differences to be resolved rather than victory being achieved especially for the most powerful. Finally, Ubuntu encourages dialogue and mutual tolerance
At our schools, this is exactly the culture that we are trying to build isn’t it? These are the values and beliefs we are trying to instill in our children through the adults in our buildings. What if we could be as smart as the children and know that we are one because “we share the same soul?”
By Mark Hayes
I am me because of you, ubuntu, ubuntu.
And you are you because of me, ubuntu, ubuntu.
I need you and you need me, ubuntu, ubuntu.
We are one big family.
Ubuntu, ugamuntu, ngabanye abantu
I am human just like you.
But we have differences, it’s true.
I will see the best in you, and I know that
You will see the best in me.
I will guard your dignity, ubuntu, ubuntu.
We will live in harmony, ubuntu, ubuntu.
I will lift your spirits high, ubuntu, ubuntu.
wipe the teardrops from your eyes, ubuntu, ubuntu.
As a chorus we are strong, ubuntu, ubuntu,
when every one of us sings along, ubuntu, ubuntu.
So lift your voice and sing your part, ubuntu, ubuntu.
Let us hear what’s in your heart.
Mark Hayes was commissioned by Shawn Berry, artistic director of The Young Singers of the Palm Beaches in 2012 to write a song for their 2013 spring concert. Access their performance here: Ubuntu Song