Tag Archive: ubuntu


bread

It was just another praying through of the Lord’s prayer…

You know the deal, ‘Our Father, who are in heaven, blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah, you know, find the rhythm

blah blah blah lips moving to recreate words long worn into you in some ancient school assembly probably

blah blah blah’ WAIT, WHAT?

There is was, middle of the prayer, Matthew 6, verse 11:

11 Give us today our daily bread.

That’s surely a typo, right? Everyone knows it goes, ‘Give me today MY daily bread.’

But it wasn’t…

IT. WAS. ME!

i would so much like to claim the credit for this one, but after 41 years of reciting the Lord’s Prayer, as it has come to be known, the very one that Jesus taught His disciples to share with them some incredible ingredients that make up a good prayer, it took someone else to point it out to me.

The phrase is a call for “OUR daily bread.”

How had i never seen that before?

The words of Martin Luther King Jnr. resonate in my ears, “No one is free until we are all free.”

YOUR NEED BEFORE MY WANT

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the second book of The Torah, in Exodus 16 there is a beautiful story of God supplying the Israelites with a sort of bread from heaven as they wandered through the desert. They were given strict instructions to collect just what they needed, and no more. Paul echoes a reminder to this in his second letter to the Corinthians in chapter 8:

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

While, in this passage, the writer is speaking specifically about believers sharing with believers, the reference to the community of Israel throws open a bigger picture. That when God provides, there should be enough for everyone. As long as people continue to adhere to the principle of gathering what you need. Not too much or too little.

Or to put it a different way, the call for us to be crying out for the provision of ‘Our Daily Bread’.

In Africa, we have the idea of Ubuntu – i am a person through people, or i am what i am because of who we are.

Ubuntu is the potential for being human, to value the good of the community above self interest.

We love to help other people. i believe that has been wired into our humanity. We see someone in need and something in us instantly wants to reach out and make a difference. However, as we grow up on a planet with a very loud and clear ‘Me first’ personology that is taught and modelled to us almost everywhere we look, i wonder where that particular strand of D.N.A. was reprogrammed?

Could it be that our desire to help others and see justice and equality for all has been curtailed, and even overwhelmed sometimes, by our longing for person comfort and luxury?

i will help you, as long as it does not affect my own personal comfort and well-being.

finding-nemo-seagull-mine (1)

Mine is more important than yours.

Give me this day MY daily bread. And then if there is leftovers, may you have yours as well.

Although that’s not how the prayer goes, is it?

What needs to change in me, for me, from me, the moment the light comes on and i realise that the words are, and have always been,

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

[For some practical conversations about how change can happen in South Africa, click here]

Boko Haram…

Charlie Hebdo…

Pupils in a Gauteng school re-enacting dog-fights…

Sometimes, far too regularly, it seems like the world has gone mad. What are we to do?

i was encouraged by this excerpt from a Dutch friend of mine who sent this as part of his end of year newsletter:

One thing has become clearer to me than ever before: Jesus Christ is the only hope for man and mankind. Especially studying the chapters 5-7 of Mathew’s gospel where we find the so called Sermon on the Mount, convinced me afresh of the incomparable life, mission and words of Jesus. Too easily the spiritual life is seen and interpreted as disconnected and separated from the world. Jesus however teaches how to live our lives well in a hostile world: there truly is hope! His mission was to restore the link between God and man, and between humans. It all starts with the restora-tion of the relationship between God and the individual. That restoration delivers man from his insatiable hunger for entitlement, power, money, and to be right. Being set free from all of these self-destructive attitudes and behaviors man is able to give himself to the other, no matter how strange, or impossible the other seems to be. [Jan Den Ouden]

This inspired me to spend some time reading Matthew 5-7. As in the whole thing. For the next couple of days. Too often we read through a passage and think some things and then move quickly on to the next one. i have learnt that it can be super helpful and enlightening to take a passage [or a book like i did with Philippians reading the whole thing every day for a month a few years ago] and immerse yourself in it. Once you get past the normal things you have taken from it before, you often have your eyes opened to other things God might be saying in there.

Too many people who call themselves ‘christian’ in the world seem to think the whole thing is about what they believe. Whereas with Jesus it was always about how you live. Life now, not a focus on heaven one day. How do you ‘Love God and Love people’ [including your neighbour and your enemy] in practical ways that improve the state of their lives and make the world a better place, right here and right now. How do you look beyond yourself to the needs of those around you.

ubuntu

 

words

I enjoy words, but there are just some that stand tall above the rest.

And I’m not just talking simply about nice sounding words here like ‘eclectic’, ‘spelunking’ or ‘gratuitous’, but words  with meanings attached that as a concept are particularly attractive.

One word that has really grown on me in the hugest of ways over the last few years is the word as well as the concept of ‘Interdependence.’

What is particularly powerful about this word is that it emerged Phoenix-like out of the ashes of the very similiar sounding word ‘Independence’ which is a word we grew up being taught by society and the media was one of the foundations to a successful life.

Independence = It is all about me.

Interdependence = It is all about us. 

interdependence hands

The African concept of ‘Ubuntu’ comes to mind. The idea that a person is a person through other people. The interconnectedness of people.

The Biblical concepts of ‘kingdom of God’ and the church being the [collective] ‘body of Christ’ hold fast to this idea, when lived out as Jesus called us to.

Jesus’ call to honour and love someone else above yourself [with the idea that when community is functioning as it should, the other person will be doing the same and everyone will be lifted up [as they would if they were each chasing independence] but with the added injection of relationship.

i think i am a long way away from really understanding the extent of what this word interdependence means, but i am attracted to it and will continue to chase after it, hopefully alongside other people, because i imagine this is a word we will figure out well together.

And so there you have it – interdependence is another word i really like – i would LOVE to hear a word you really like…

interdep[To see another word i really like – Uber – click here]

apartheid

 

 

 

a short while ago two South Africans sparked an international discussion about racism, guilt and responsibility when they printed and distributed forty t-shirts with the slogan ‘I benefited from apartheid’ written on them:

 

 

 

 

 

zapiro

 

 

well-known political satirist Jonathan Shapiro [aka Zapiro] came up with this minimalistic but powerful cartoon which expressed his take on the matter:

 

 

 

are they right? yes, for sure, i definitely had [and still have] benefits from apartheid – they were not as a result of my choosing, or even my parents choosing, but they are real.

so in a nutshell i have to feel guilty for being white.

i also have to feel guilty for being male. women have been oppressed in this country and around the world for who knows how many decades, centuries even. have i benefited from that? surely i have. i may not have chosen my penis but it has served me well, just by being there.

what else is there?

english-speaking? because surely as one of the dominant languages that worldwide communication and media have been presented in, this has forced some kind of pain and trauma on those who have been forced to speak it?

christian? while i prefer the term ‘Christ-follower personally’ i know that being grouped in this group racks up the score column for guilt and shame [no-one expected the Spanish Inquisition…]

how about heterosexual? [because heaven knows we’ve treated the gays badly]

i imagine there are probably more, but it seems as if there is enough data to suggest that i am part of the most privileged demographic imaginable – white male heterosexual english-speaking christian… and therefore the most guilty.

i think i get it. to a large extent. having benefited from apartheid etc etc i need to own that and take responsibility and be involved in reconciliation and reparation where possible as well as doing what i can do to address the various imbalances that now exist as a result of the past.

at the same time, is there a time when it ends? when i can stop feeling the need to feel guilty because i am white, because i am a man, because i…

because, to be very honest, i did not have a lot of say in the whiteness of my white, i wasn’t all that involved in the maleness of my maleity, i was born into english, i am attracted to women [and one very beautiful one in particular]

the only thing on my list that i can see that i had any part in choosing to be a part of is the christian one and even there i have chosen to align myself to a Christ-following which i hope looks a LOT different from the majority of wrongs and perversions that the typical historical christian [those who profess one thing but live another] has gotten horribly wrong.

in terms of the apartheid debris in South Africa, i will continue to do what i can to make amends and take responsibility for the past i largely inherited, but will there be a time when i am allowed to ask questions of the post-apartheid government who continue to be a hive of corruption, mismanagement, greed and nepotism and spend/waste/party this country into the ground?

because, to be honest, it’s been 18 years now. you’re practically legal new democracy. Mandela showed you the way you could choose to live – with grace, forgiveness, honour, invitation, integrity… and it is up to you at some stage to embrace that.

to be honest, i don’t actively carry any guilt for any of who i am, no matter how much the pressure is exerted to do so. i know that i’m far from perfect and i try to live better, day to day, than how i lived the day before. i try to take responsibility when i mess up and make things right with the people i have hurt or wronged. and i believe this is something that needs to be embraced by every one of us, so that we can really turn this country around and make it the incredible place it should be.

so when do we stop blaming apartheid? when do we start taking responsibility together?

unity.

ubuntu.

you and me. let’s do this.

Awesome SA is a site dedicated to the good news of what happens in South Africa that we seldom get to read about in the newspapers or watch in the news – they send out regular newsletters with testimonies of south africans living and loving large and helping make this nation the thing it truly can be – i encourage you to get connected

‘Awesome SA is about encouraging South Africans to positively influence the future.’

Find out more about us on http://www.awesomesa.co.za

in their latest newsletter they included a number of encouraging links and i just wanted to share two of them with you – an open letter of thankx so bafana bafana:

http://blogs.sport24.co.za/mspr1nt/an-open-letter-of-thanks-to-bafana

and this letter by Shari Cohen, an international development worker in the public sector who wrote this in the publication she writes for back home – i will include one paragraph to whet your appetite but go read the whole thing:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shari-cohen/south-africa-rolls-out-th_b_611802.html

“So, if South Africa accomplishes nothing more on the playing field, it will still have won as a host country. I am a cynic, no doubt about that. And yet I have to admit, I’m a little teary just writing this because I leave for home next weekend and I will be leaving a little piece of myself here in South Africa. I just hope I have learned enough to bring back a little piece of Ubuntu to my homeland, where perhaps with a little caring and a little water, it will take root as naturally as it does here, in the cradle of civilization. It’s funny, many people in America still ask me, “are the people in Africa very primitive?” Yes, I know, amazing someone could ask that but they do. And when they do, I usually explain that living in a mud hut does not make one primitive, however, allowing kids to sell drugs to other kids and engage in drive-by killings — isn’t that primitive behavior? I think it is. When I think of Ubuntu and my recent experiences here, I think America has much to learn from Africa in general, in terms of living as a larger village; and as human beings who are all interconnected with each other, each of us having an affect on our brothers and sisters.

As the 2010 Cup slogan goes, “Feel it. It is here.” Well, I have felt it, because I am here. Thank you South Africa, for giving me this unexpected gift. I am humbled.”

[and by one i clearly mean two]

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