"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

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"I am Afghan woman and I must wail..."

I am extremely impatient with the state of the United States today. I teach high school to "underprivileged" students, and yes, some of them genuinely are in need of real advocacy for the unfairness their lives have dealt them. Most, however, take for granted the free education that is provided to them, the rights they have to go to school in a safe environment, to wear the clothes they want, to listen to the music they want, to have access to anything in the world via the Internet.... and the opportunity to pursue whatever career they choose. Many of them fail to realize that they have many, many advantages over most of the world's population, and even those who struggle in school are still able to have a life that affords them many luxuries.

I've been told to "shut up" from three different students today for asking students to do what they're supposed to to anyway. I was told earlier that I should be more concise with my directions after my French students translated their game into Spanish. "You didn't tell us what language to translate it to..." they said. Really??!!?? The news today abounds with worthless crap that we're supposed to care about. Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods, Justin whatever-his-name-is... I am so tired of the things this country has placed at the top of its priority list.

I need a good story about good people who are doing good for the world. I head a story on BBC Outlook today about a female prosecutor in Afghanistan, and even though the story itself is heart-wrenching and sad, the light that shines through circumstances such as these is even brighter because of them. If I could only be as brave and courageous as this woman in my little comfortable life, I might be able to overlook all the little things that get to me, and truly make a difference. Maria Bashir is the true embodiment of Ubuntu.

Definitely read about her here:



And listen to the Outlook interview here:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Acts of goodwill propagate through the city....

After a little hiatus, I started listening/searching again for more Ubuntu. Strangely enough, right as I was thinking, "Hey, I should start looking for some more stories..." I heard this story on NPR. The part that got my attention was the beginning anecdote about the man named "Oscar" who lost his wallet in Philadelphia's Reading Market and had it returned to him, intact, several weeks later by an anonymous person. Neal Conan makes a point that the act of goodwill is not so much the act in itself, but the fact that Oscar repeats the story over and over again. The interview is actually with an author about centers where ethnic and socioeconomic barriers are broken down and people see each other as people. It's a good interview, with a lot of good Ubuntu stories that would otherwise probably go unheard. I hope you listen.