Ubuntu for harmony and peace

Nobel Laureate Mother Teresa once said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." This might sound far-fetched in the 'I, me, myself,' world we live in.

But this realisation that we are all inter-dependent and linked to each another in some way or the other, might just be the solution to the perennial problem of intolerance and discord we face in our societies today.

The African concept of Ubuntu highlights the idea of 'inter-dependence,' as being fundamental in the promotion of peace and co-operation among humankind. Explaining the concept of Ubuntu, Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, "Ubuntu is a concept that we have in our Bantu languages at home. Ubuntu is the essence of being a person. It means that we are people through other people. We cannot be fully human alone. We are made for interdependence. When you have ubuntu, you embrace others. You are generous, compassionate. If the world had more ubuntu, there would be no war.

The powerful would help the weak. That is where peace is to be found."

There is no denying the fact that man is essentially a dependent creature.

He is akin to certain sea-beings, which cannot live, though they are animals, without attaching themselves to some rock or shell.

Human greatness is always found in that human spirit that attaches itself to some cause or principle or person or group and gives himself up to it.

True heroism comes from self-surrender for the welfare of the whole of humanity. Those who seek to be entirely independent and to do as they please for self-interest and self-gratification deteriorate into men of intolerance, suspicion and aggression towards others and the world around him.

This discernment that in the larger picture every human life is intertwined to others in the universe will open doors to a harmonious world.

Every distinguished man who has contributed to world peace and progress has, knowingly or unknowingly, embraced Ubuntu in his life, moving from his inner circle to live as one with his fellowmen in tolerance and brotherly kindness.

The words of Albert Einstein underscore the concept of Ubuntu eloquently: "A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

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