A few weeks ago Desert Island Discs completed 75 years on BBC Radio4.(http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08cd2fk) A brief excerpt of an interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu caught my ear. He talked about his experience of freedom when he came to England in the 1960s. He could go into any restaurant, speak openly and be himself. White policemen spoke to him with respect. He said that anyone who had never experienced such a great contrast as the one between his home country and the UK would not understand how wonderful that freedom felt.
This made me think about what freedom means to me. I read some of the Archbishop’s teachings and found the ancient Bantu word ‘Ubuntu’ meaning “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.
“Ubuntu .. the very essence of being human. A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has 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.”
“We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family.”
“My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours. We belong in a bundle of life. A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships” ― Desmond Tutu
Nelson Mandela said something similar – ‘For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’
Freedom cannot be achieved by isolating oneself. Waging wars in the name of freedom is a fundamentally flawed concept, be it nations or individuals. Freedom is uplifting and life enhancing for everyone, not for one at the cost of the other. Ubuntu.
‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’