Ubuntu may not be a purely South African concept, but as a South African who has emigrated, this concept must hold particular value for you. Right across the globe you will find cultures with social structures dependent on communal sharing and caring, but quite often this system is limited to a particular class, race, religion or other classification.
Steve Maraboli said it right though; “With one kind gesture you can change a life. One person at a time you can change the world. One day at a time we can change everything.” (the Power of One).
In a world where it’s each man for himself, we’re not often coaxed into caring. In fact, the widely accepted norm seems to be that we should leave the lavish charity to non-profit organisations, big corporates and governments. Our caring as individuals, we feel, needs to be limited to sporadic handouts to a morally-endorsed charity who, of course, have measurable and sufficient levels of suffering to justify the pittance we surrender to them.
Spread the safa love
“Empathy underlies virtually everything that makes society work—like trust, altruism, collaboration, love, charity. Failure to empathize is a key part of most social problems—crime, violence, war, racism, child abuse, and inequity, to name just a few.” Bruce D. Perry, Born for Love: why empathy is essential — and endangered.
Ubuntu isn’t something which should be limited to those few people you love, or those few topics that interest you. We are often so blinded by the constraints of our physical location or environment and beliefs, that we cannot fathom the concept of stepping outside those boundaries.
Consider, for instance, giving to a charity across the globe dealing with a crisis which is inherently local – can you conceive of supporting said charity without seeking justification or demanding results for your charity? For you will not see the change you are effecting. Can you conceive of lightening up the day of an impoverished alcoholic living on the street without tainting your giving with your notions of what they should be doing with their lives? Can you give to ease the pain of someone who does not follow the same religion as you? Can you give to a man in prison who has harmed others? For giving, real giving, much like the biblical sense of love, has no strings attached.
I have my own problems to deal with
Of course, you undoubtedly have heaps of accumulated stress and anxiety following your big move abroad. In fact, emigration is said to be one of the most stressful ‘events’ one can experience in your lifetime. But here’s the remarkable thing – feeling good relieves stress. And you may not believe it, but scientists have found that giving makes us far happier than receiving. Giving is the mental aphrodisiac.
In fact, a study at Harvard Business School found that, regardless of income, people who spend money on others are decidedly happier than those who spend money on themselves. So essentially, the more problems you have, the more you should help others with their problems. For you get what you give.
Playing your part in a global society
As an expat, you are no longer confined to the borders of our rainbow nation. In fact, no one can claim ignorance to the social, political and financial crises abounding across the globe
as you read this. We are all global residents, living in a world where every story is intertwined – every life linked. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, our countries, our earth – to contribute to the welfare of all. Lack of education, violence, oppression, war and famine, collapse of family structures, moral decay – these are actualities which affect us all.
But the trick is not to give infrequently, but to entrench a spirit of giving in our daily lives. To encourage others to give of their time, wallets and to discuss issues of social welfare in their conversations because it is real and cannot be ignored.
Giving doesn’t need to be such serious business
But okay, let’s lighten up a bit here. The whole point is to feel better, and to make others feel better.
Remember that giving isn’t always a monetary thing. Nor is it something that needs to be taxing, draining or heart breaking. Sometimes you can simply give a smile, give a seat or warm someone’s food. Sometimes it’s simply easing up on the waitress who got your order wrong, or giving your spouse a free pass when they’ve forgotten something. Because, after all, charity is best served fresh, with a chunk of love at home, where it all starts.
the Hermanus Rainbow Trust
If you don’t know where to start, why not support the Hermanus Rainbow Trust. finglobal.com has been supporting this remarkable social development initiative for years, Because we care for all South Africans, irrespective of who they are, or where they are, and we believe in growing others.
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