Free & Fit NYC - Desmond Tutu's Ubuntu Philiosophy - A Social Media Campaign & Reflectio

Free & Fit NYC - Desmond Tutu's Ubuntu Philiosophy - A Social Media Campaign & Reflection

Context and Introduction

Desmond Tutu is the former Archbishop of the Anglican Dioceses of Johannesburg in South Africa. His works during a period of significant conflict, pain and hurt for the nation of South Africa has been seen to some as the most revolutionary conflict resolution when faced with arguably one of the most difficult and challenging humanitarian domestic issues in world history. The rule of Apartheid was abolished and during seeking reconciliation and forgiveness Tutu’s work, alongside Prime Minister Nelson Mandela, proved pivotal in pursuing a positive outcome to an uncertain and difficult future for the nation of South Africa (Battle, 2009).

This paper reflects the authors reading over a semester, with peers and Professor Michael Battle, to focus on one specific aspect of Tutu’s theology during his work in South Africa. The works which interests the author the most in his work on Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy. Specifically, Tutu’s position to pursue reconciliation and how we, as a human race, can reconcile between one another. Tutu believed we were all created in the image of God and worked to create a culture of a healthy and all-inclusive community by building, maintaining and establishing a sacred covenant. This process of reconciling in community is exactly how the author wishes to grow as a Christian leader, as a Christian visionary and, more importantly, as a practicing Christian disciple (Battle, 2009).

The theory of loving one another through change, repentance, surrender and compassionate submission to God. Through his unpublicized works Professor Michael Battle presented to us a class this process as three parts of Tutu’s works; Purgation, Illumination and Unitive. Tutu believed that by demonstrating love in unifying and illuminating way it could lead people to Purgation. Tutu built Ubuntu upon these practices and stated that it was vital in any community to be open and available. This can also be applied to different traditions, faiths or a wider secular society. In Tutu’s theology it provides a questionable approach in that if a Christian were to avoid God altogether and just to seek after any community, he or she could receive God’s love. However, the author would like to explore how God may not be accessible to somebody who is just a passive person in the crowd on a Sunday service, perhaps as an inactive member of a congregation or somebody who finds themselves as a lost individual who is without an identity, community or purpose in life. Further issues we seek to try research in this paper.

During the various texts, books and reflections of the semester the author completed several reflections throughout the project and completed a presentation on Tutu’s book “No future without forgiveness.” It is from this book and another text, “Reconciliation: The Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy of Desmond Tutu” written by Professor Michael Battle, that this paper will draw its foundations. Both books help defines Tutu’s own description of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy. Taking it from the human perspective, to a Christian perspective and setting a clear aspirational character for us all to follow as both followers of Christ and sons and daughters of God created in his image.

The core definition of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy from Desmond Tutu himself for this text is:

“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, or treated as if they were less than who they are. (Tutu, 2001)”

It is from the first book, “No future without forgiveness”, that the author selected, and it is this quote that will create a hypothesis for this reflection. This process, of reconciliation, includes the author identifying the people in which he himself needs to apply Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy and includes steps of how this will impact his relationship and local community. It is through Tutu’s works that the author hopes to create a conversation, through the social media project, to open doors and windows to engage with reconciliation, forgiveness and overcoming the reality that it may not create a certain positive conflict resolution.

The context of reconciliation is chosen to explore new ways to engage the marginalized, broken, poor in Spirit and hungry for authentic community in New York City. Today, in a world charged by instant gratification, political hurt, seasonal climate impacts and the increasing changes to society, Tutu’s spiritual inspiration and leadership we can see new roads and rivers to pursue reconciliation in new and entrepreneurial ways.

The relationships Tutu developed whilst working in South Africa helps us to see a way to reconcile. Tutu, supported by newly released and nominated first Black President Nelson Mandela, work together during a period of turmoil by standing up and against Apartheid in South Africa.

This is a clear purgatory made by the White British and Europeans in South Africa who were ruling, governing and enforcing apartheid at that time. To approach the modern situations of injustice in New York City it is important to identify ways to embrace and welcome people who have been subject to pain and hurt from groups including migrants, refugees and “new arrivals” into New York. These people when they first arrive may have big dreams of making it in New York as the cliché’ goes “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”.

However, the reality is when you first arrive in New York, like any city, you are a stranger in a new, lonely and intimidating city. Through the theology of Ubuntu, it is also clear to see both the differences and similarities between South African and New York City issues of independence. In New York a culture and ident