"A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
— Desmond Tutu

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Turning lemons into lemonade...into relief

As a teacher, I have been dismayed by the enormous budget cuts to the education system, and have spent much of the last week wallowing in self pity and anger towards those who think that teachers and those who work in the public sector are so expendable. Also, I had an extremely hard time finding Ubuntu in any news story this week, as so many terrible things have happened around the world. However, if there's one thing that I'm learning through this, it's that people inevitably come out to help those in need during times of tremendous tragedy. I happened to hear this story on NPR about those in Hawaii raising money to help those affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. My favorite part was hearing about the children who set up a lemonade stand, and sent their resulting $145 to Japan relief efforts. True Ubuntu in the works.

Listen to the story here:

Hawaii Looks To Help Japan With Donations

Friday, March 11, 2011

Countering Thoughtlessness

I should know by now not to read comments people make on controversial news stories. I was reading a story earlier about Rep Gabrielle Giffords' recovery and some of the comments made were unnecessary, and unnecessarily hateful. I guess I'm having a hard time balancing free speech with the things that people choose to say. I suppose one has to be strong enough in his convictions to be able to look past the sometimes horrifying rhetoric people spew onto public forums. I decided that since I'm not quite that strong, I'm going to counter it with an old story from BBC Outlook I heard in January. I think about this woman and her Ubuntu spirit nearly every day, and I think that her selflessness and compassion are great enough to wipe out the rest of what I head today.


To read more about Dorah's story, go here:

And to learn more about children like Dorah, or to make a contribution, go here:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Patriotic Ubuntu

The decision of the Supreme Court last week that upheld the right to free speech for members of the Westboro Baptist "Church" was upsetting, and unfortunately, I think, the right decision. This is one of the things about free speech that is so upsetting- people can spew their hate and bigotry wherever... even our fallen soldiers' funerals. However, I found this story (thanks Carol and Snowden) posted on Facebook today, and it made me feel a little more...uplifted... about this decision. Yes, these people have the right to say what they want, but no one has to hear it. This is a great example of Archbishop Tutu's description of Ubuntu- people who feel diminished when others are diminished, and therefore must do something about it.
Thank God for those who have the Ubuntu to protect grieving families by drowning out those who, while they have the right to, should not be talking.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Going out of your way to help....literally

After reading in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point that people are more likely to help a person in dire need if they are the only one around to hear their calls for help, I was struck with the sinking sensation that people may not be as philanthropic as I had thought. But I heard this story about a captain who went off his course to help stranded Afghani refugees, and I feel a little more uplifted about those willing to help another in his or her time of need.

Listen to the story here:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"I shall not hate."

There were a lot of news items about "taking sides" this morning. The 2012 presidential campaign is looming, there are stories of unions vs governors, stories of people versus their government. It is so easy for us to take sides, sometimes. Having never been on either side of a great divide; I can't possibly imagine how it would feel. Also, living in the great comfort and safety of the United States, I can't imagine living a life that was in great danger nearly every day, and yet never giving in to having to "choose" a side. And I have also been fortunate enough to have never had to deal with a great and tragic loss. This is a true example of ubuntu- a man who gives of himself to promote peace and the idea that we all must be cared for, even in the shadow of immense personal loss.

Listen to his story here: