The Wisdom of "ubuntu": Giving and Sharing for the Common Good
- Kamran Mofid
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The news from the “Super-rich”, "gated" community is not good, encouraging, or inspiring. This group is mostly corrupted by the fraudulent philosophy of neo-liberalism which has brought the world to its knees.
The so called neo-liberalism has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the post-war world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism, empathy and compassion are irrational. The poor are guilty for their poverty, whilst the rich deserve unmediated power, because they are worth it. This holds that the only moral course is pure self-interest.
Thus, for this group of individuals, what matters most is money. Success, happiness, well-being, and more, all have monetary values, and all must be measured through monetary means. This is why, many of them are tax-avoiders, cheaters and dodgers. They are paid huge salaries, in absolute and relative terms. But are only moved by huge bonuses to do the jobs for which they are already handsomely paid for. They show no regards for other fellow human beings, nature and environment. Sustainability and responsibility means nothing to them, as long as costs are minimised, profits are maximised, leading to huge bonuses. They have no regard for the common good and no value for volunteerism, service, and selfless giving.
In short, for this group, inspired by modern economic thinking, greed and selfishness are upheld as guiding the ‘invisible hand’ of the market and are therefore exempt from moral consideration.
Thus, in today’s money-only-driven world that they have constructed, which is devoid of any values but the worship of mammon, democracy means the ability to consume, whilst the citizens are valued only as consumers, borrowers and shoppers.
However, there is hope. Out of this despair comes a ray of sunshine, beauty and inspiration to guide the world. There are individuals who have risen above this nonsensical and bankrupt philosophy and have bucked the trend: Individuals with a big heart, which have discovered the awesome power of giving and sharing for the common good. Giving thanks for all the blessings life has offered them, by giving back to their local or global community.
As it has been noted, at its core, giving is a means of uniting all the members of our human community through a process of bonding so that we may live together in peace, harmony and security. Giving, in all its forms, is the gesture that attempts to equalize the differences that separate the rich from the poor and the privileged from the disadvantaged. It is inspired by an innate urge to dissolve the barriers that make people feel distant from each other. Because we are inherently social beings from our first breath to our last, giving is a statement of openness and trust that affirms we are all similar in our humanity and mortality.
Indeed, throughout history there have been many examples of such individuals, changing their world for better. Today, in this blog, I wish to highlight one individual from Africa, sharing his wealth with many, whilst inspired to do so, by the African spirit of "ubuntu" - a belief system which translates as "I am because you are", meaning individuals need other people to be fulfilled.
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said:''UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?''
Now see the power of UBUNTU in action:
South Africa's richest black man, Patrice Motsepe, has announced he is giving away half his wealth to improve the lives of the poor.
The mining magnate said the money would be handled by the Motsepe Foundation to address education and health issues.
Mr Motsepe has a net worth of $2.65bn (£1.67bn), Forbes' rich list estimates.
"I decided quite some time ago to give at least half of the funds generated by our family assets to uplift poor and other disadvantaged and marginalised South Africans but was also duty-bound and committed to ensuring that it would be done in a way that protects the interests and retains the confidence of our shareholders and investors," said Mr Motsepe.
Mr Motsepe said he was also inspired by the spirit of "ubuntu" - an African belief system which translates as "I am because you are", meaning individuals need other people to be fulfilled.
"South Africans are caring, compassionate and loving people. It has always been part of our culture and tradition to assist and care for less fortunate and marginalised members of our communities. This culture is also embodied in the spirit and tradition of ubuntu/botho," he said.
Patrice Motsepe: South African tycoon to donate millions
The Giving Pledge