The Art of Ubuntu

Life is NOT what it is. You are not the work that is in front of you. You are not the endless calls or video conferences you now seem to be crushed by. You are not your endless inbox. Finding a way to connect more deeply is proving to be difficult with the gas that’s been thrown on the fire called shelter at home. My wife told me earlier this week that I am busier than I was then when I wasn’t working from home. Unbuntu is a South African philosophy I ran across that teaches we are all interconnected. By taking this practice of unbuntu into our daily routines we can refill out buckets with meaning and connections.

I am in a world of tech in my house. There’s not a room in the house that doesn’t have some technology in it. I get access to whatever I need whenever I need it. But, it also drives me inward looking for likes, acceptance, and hoping someone clicks into my posts. Further making me feel more alone by the minute. The tech will never be able to compete with the interconnected feeling I get when I unplug to connect with other people.

Unbuntu practice on its own forces us to look at others for what they bring to the relationship over that of comparing them to ourselves. Outward in approach. These unique behaviors they bring can be simple like a smile everyday when you see them along the way in your day or complex like taking care of someone as a caregiver that cannot take care of themselves. This outward approache is positive in nature. It’s also very comforting. It’s what we should be practicing at this very minute with the current climate around us.

In efforts to explore others we have to be willing to be open to their perspectives. Different perspectives allow us to move faster and farther together when they are accepted. The more perspectives, the more innovative. And, thus the faster we get to solve some really cool problems. A combined collective of problem solvers versus a segregated collective of the few. The added benefit of being open to someone else’s perspectives, you begin to understand what kind of person they are. How they became who they are. Greater inclusion as a result.

With this practice we begin to forgive others more readily. Because we begin to acknowledge their humanity. We see the person who hurt us is human too. Fallible. Their actions may not be specifically targeting us, in fact the opposite. Because of their perspective we start to try and understand how their actions may have in fact been shaped by their particular circumstances. For example, someone who is quick to anger may have been a victim of a childhood with lots of violence or abuse. Forgiving others is really hard to do, I get it. But, we need to. We need to be able to be more interconnected to others.

Being brutally honest where we are is hard. But, unbuntu teaches us to embrace the scars, bruises, and fragileness of what makes us who we are. We’re hard on ourselves, but we have let go of judging ourselves. We act out what we think in our heads. It comes through in our actions when we’re not in control of it. So accepting our ugliness will allow us to fully see our potential. We’re coded for empathy. When we see someone being mistreated we feel their pain. So, what makes our internal treatment of ourselves any different. Practicing self-compassion is a great start. When we do, we’ll not hesitate to reach out and help others. It also allows us to deepen our relationships with others.

Practicing unbuntu means we listen to learn from those around us, not to respond. We’re all interconnected so why do we need to be the first one to say something or lead the conversation. By listening to learn your practicing compassion outwardly and inwardly developing your own sense of empathy. When we listen actively we also open ourselves up to others which builds trust. Conversely when the time is up to pay the kindness of being understood forward, they will do the same for your benefit.

Technology or social feeds online will never replace what where learning to do differently today. How to connect deeper with the people right in front of us or closest to us in our lives will get us through what is in front of us and beyond. We got a reset button that’s been pressed. When things begin to return to the old normal, its my hope we don’t go back to some of our bad habits. Rather, I hope we can be more focused outwardly the way unbuntu philosophy teaches. Honoring every person that crosses our path, regardless of what roles they play. Openly finding a way to learn from them, versus expect something from them.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’re healthy, able to connect with people, and safe. Hit me up in the comments if not. I love to connect.

✌ Shawn

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