I recently read this quote from Desmond Tutu in Victor Chan’s book The Wisdom of Forgiveness. It was written,
In our country, we speak of something called ubuuntu. When I want to praise you, the highest praise I can give you is to say, you have ubuuntu — this person has what it takes to be a human being. This is a person who recognizes that he exists only because others exist: a person is a person through other persons. When we say you have ubuuntu, we mean that you are gentle, you are compassionate, you are hospitable, you want to share, and you care about the welfare of others. This is because my humanity is caught up in your humanity. So when I dehumanize others, whether I like it or not, inexorably, I dehumanize myself. For we can only by human, we can only be free, together. To forgive is actually the best form of self-interest.
Forgiveness, is not about what you do for others, it is the willingness to help yourself become the best person you can be. It is difficult to have ubuuntu when we are carrying within us the burden of guilt, anger, hate, and shame. Those feelings are like rocks in a sack that we carry around with us from place to place. Some of us have been carrying this sack for so long that we no longer realize we are carrying it or are mindful of how much energy it takes to carry it. It is not until we lay it down and surrender it to a power greater than us, that we begin to experience the relief and release. It is then that we become aware of the renewed sense of energy we have to be present in the moment and to be present for others.
When we allow ourselves to carry these boulders, rocks, and stones or negativity with us, we are dehumanizing ourselves. It is as if we are treating ourselves as if we are enslaved and shackled to the past and to painful memories. The jailer, or slave master, however, is not someone else. It is ourselves in this situation. We dehumanize ourselves and imprison ourselves in jails of our own making. If we cannot treat ourselves humanely then how can we treat others with dignity and respect.
Being able to evolve to the place that one has ubuuntu means that we have to release our self from all that which imprisons us and enslaves us to past pains. We must begin to see how we are each other and each other is us. This sense of ubuuntu lends new meaning to the Christian teaching, as I have loved you, love one another. May we be intentional about each day about creating opportunities for the human being in each of us to connect with, support and nurture the human being in each other. May we see the reflection of ourselves in each other and may it be good.