I can hardly believe that I woke up today, listening to the President of the United States talk about that most powerful concept, ubuntu. It was in his tribute to Nelson Mandela – Madiba, a speech given today before thousands, in Johannesburg. Here is what he said:
Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa — Ubuntu — a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us. ~ President Barack Obama
Ubuntu – I am because we are – is, I believe, at the heart of what makes us human, and it is at the heart of what makes mediation work.
As we mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela, we have many lessons to learn. I believe that ubuntu is the most important one – and perhaps the hardest to practice consistently. That is his legacy. We are his legacy. Let us honor this great man by living up to his high standards, not only for justice, but also for compassion.