This Thanksgiving, I’ll have a Serving of Humanity, Please

This Thanksgiving let’s share some Ubunto (pronounced Oo-boon-too).  Ubunto is a practice or belief system in certain regions of South Africa.

When someone does something wrong, he is taken to the center of the village and surrounded by his tribe for two days.

Uh-Oh!  In our culture this doesn’t sound good.  But read on.

While surrounded by his tribe they speak of all the good he has done.  They believe each person is good, yet sometimes we make mistakes, which is really a cry for help.  They unite in this ritual to encourage this person to reconnect with his true nature.  The belief is that unity and affirmation have more power to change behavior than shame and punishment.

I don’t know about you, but I relate much better to affirmations than I do being embarrassed and belittled.

Ubuntu means “humanity” and is often translated as “I am because we are”, or “humanity towards others”.  It is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.”

As we gather together this Thanksgiving with family and friends, many differing opinions, and wrong doings foisted on one another in the past will gather to fester as well.  We may laugh about it, worry about who to invite and not invite, agonize over who is to sit next to whom, or allow the Thanksgiving Day to be clouded by the anticipation of what family and friends may do or say. We may even wish we could just escape the holiday altogether, or make an excuse about some strange and contagious virus that has permeated our home – anything to avoid a holiday filled with the possibility of mayhem and havoc.

It is my prayer that we surround one another to remember the good things each of us has done, rather than the slights and the hurts that separate us from being united.  May we support one another despite our differences and show the humanity, kindness, and tolerance that Jesus showed us.  Let us not feel superior by measuring and judging opinions and behaviors of others and thereby avoid or exclude them form this day; rather let us measure ourselves by what we embrace, create and who we include.

This year, let’s take a day from the life of a South African Tribe and sit united to reconnect and show some Ubuntu (“humanity towards others”) to our very own tribe.Serve a slice of Humanity.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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