Sunday, December 26, 2010

“Umuntu ngumuntu ngbaantu” (I am a person through other people)

By Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz, PhD



This is the time of the year when we take time out to reflect on renewal, and spiritual reconstruction. I started my process by visiting family and friends during “Noche Buena” (Christmas Eve) and sharing in a meal, snacks and prayers. My family and I were visiting very dear friends when an earthquake struck. This is not uncommon in Puerto Rico, but this one was a little more intense, and not only shock us physically but spiritually. The question that immediately arose was: “are you at peace with your kin, your friends, people in your community, or the world community.”

After this experience we arrived the last reunion of the evening. We were going to visit a childhood friend. Much to our family’s surprise their were all kind of people there: tall, small, male and female, Spanish, English and Hindi speaking, poets doctors, teachers and common people. There was plenty of food and plenty to drink. From a macro level everything was well, but as we talked to different people and smaller groups their was a lot of sharing: happy moments during the year, loss of a child, exclusion of family activities, meetings and photographs, honors and awards, and merry making combined with sadness for those that were no longer…. or were not with us on this evening because they were in far away lands waging war with some unknown enemy.

It was then that I realized that peace was not only being resilient as an individual and family. Not only enduring hard times and moving on with a healthier perspective of life, but what this was about was being socially resilient. That is hard times mandated not independence but interdependence. The people of South Africa explain peace through interdependence as “ubuntu”. Roughly translated this means the spirit of the community.

My learning during this Christmas season is that my peace, security and resilience is tied to the level of relationships with other people. In South Africa this is called “Umuntu ngumuntu ngbaantu”, in Puerto Rico it is called “Yo soy a través de otros”, and for the purpose of this commentary I assert that “I am a person through other people”.   

1 comment:

  1. Indian philosophy says 'Aham Bramhma' meaning I have all elements (tatva) of cosmos within me, i.e. world is just a macro expansion of me (human at a micro level). This is called cosmic bond, an invisble spiritual bond, that every being and non being shares between them ;)

    keep going ....

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