In the conversations around Lambeth and in the run-up to GC, many have offered definitions and glosses on this African term, and many have quoted Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s remarks:
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.and
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity.Let’s lighten up a bit and consider the humorous possibilities.
We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
An overwhelmingly white church has now adopted “ubuntu” as a theme. There’s a luscious irony in that. As we seek to prove how “with it” we are, isn’t there a risk of “all ubuntu all the time” overload?
One of my friends who is at Anaheim messaged me.
Friend: “I am listening to the PB's opening remarks. It is about crisis with ubuntu woven through.”
Me: “Do you think there's a risk you'll all have a case of ubuntumania by the end of General Convention?”
Friend: “Ubuntuitis maybe. Or I will need an ubuntuectomy.”
This is the risk inherent in over-selling a theme, I suppose. Let it be noted, on the first day of GC, I’m already ahead of the curve with ubuntu humor.