Ubuntu: The Philosophy of Interconnectedness

Belonging To The Greater Whole

Ubuntu is a South African philosophy focusing on how people form allegiances and relate to one another. It is our self-assurance in knowing that we are all connected as one. With this understanding we do not need to feel threatened by others, or as we talked about in the post I’m Better Than You it is our confidence in who we are that eliminates our need to compete.

Desmond Tutu in his book No Future Without Forgiveness said this about Ubuntu:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from 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.

He went on to explain further in a speech in 2008:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

I love this concept! It isn’t new by any means but I always appreciate the reminder.


The Puzzle Pieces of Mankind

We are like puzzle pieces. We, all of humanity, fit together. We are connected whether we agree with each other or not. We harm one, we harm the entire body.

If we shift our view from OURSELVES to the view of belonging to a larger group, wouldn’t our stress levels drop or our sense of fighting for all we can get disappear?

Your confidence should come from the internal, inherent knowledge that you belong to something greater and what you as your unique authentic self brings to the world. That value then no longer feels the deep need to “find it’s place” or to seek affirmation. It already belongs and has purpose.

No man is an island, or was ever intended to remain isolated.  Just like a singular puzzle piece has no value individually, its value becomes apparent as it fills the gap in the larger picture once connected.

How will you apply this today with your groups, relationships or colleagues?


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