“I AM BECAUSE WE ARE”
A story is told of an Anthropologist who went to Africa to study the social behaviour of an indigenous tribe. He proposed a game to the children and they willingly agreed to take part in it. He put a basket of fruits under a tree and told them that whoever reached the basket first would win the whole basket and could eat the fruits all by himself.
The children took each other’s hands and started running together. They all reached the basket at the same time. Then they sat down in a big circle and enjoyed the fruits together, laughing and smiling all the time.
The anthropologist could not believe what he saw and he asked them why they had waited for each other as one could have taken the whole basket and enjoyed it all alone. The children shook their heads and replied, “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?” Ubuntu in their language is a concept which means, “I am because we are”.
What a great lesson! And what a better world it would be if there were more people with the “Ubuntu” attitude.
In my University days, our student union was guided by a slogan, “an injury to one is an injury to all”. This gave us a sense of belonging together, a bond so strong that it felt like family. In the body of Christ, this should be our attitude.
Pope Francis reminded us in his Letter to the People of God, on August 20, 2018, that “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it…” and speaking to the charitable workers of the Church in Estonia when he visited the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Tallinn last week, he invited us all “to continue creating bonds. To continue going out into the neighbourhoods and say to all sorts of people: “You, and you and you, are part of our family!”
It would be uncharitable to close our eyes to the plight of our persecuted brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. We cannot afford to go about living like nothing is wrong when members of our family are being killed, oppressed and persecuted for their faith. People of faith cannot sleep in peace knowing that their brother is out there in the fire. Let us stand with them in faith and solidarity as a family for that is what we are!