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 identity of “self” orientation and awareness is a major focus. The “New York self” consists of several psychological mental perspectives including self-awareness, self-support, self-pity, self-righteousness and the perspective on an individual themselves being fundamentally responsible for everything in their life without help or support of other people. This culture isolates, alienates and distracts individuals from other people around them who can help, love and support humanity the most.
In South Africa the issues were different in the time of Tutu’s reign as Archbishop in Johannesburg. The independence issues were more to do with tribal and isolated groups and the wider group of white minorities. “Afrikaners” including Europeans who were more entitled than their nonwhite, Asian and black brothers and sisters as one wider and given the title of Bosskap. The African non-white groups were referred to as mixed race or blacks as “Kaffir.” These titles, socio-economic groups and class divides created conflict and clear power struggles between white and non-white populous.
Today in New York the problems exist outside of just race and class, but they also exist in wider ethnic groups and even deeper identity problems. Issues around sexual orientation, prolife, abortion, euthanasia, mental health and opioid exist and continue to plague the wider American population. Indeed, there is a need for Christians themselves to separate themselves from this political agenda to identify with their Freedom which is found in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 8, Galatians 5.)
The concept of alienating groups of people due to the color of their skin or the origin of their birthplace is rife throughout history. However, a society which disqualifies groups, secludes others and separates different ethnicities from the body of Christ is immediately representative of a misconception of God’s love and justice for the world. Tutu explains that racial injustice and oppression can remove our ability to view the world. Instead he implores us to embrace equality and to welcome all people including non-white groups who themselves can be agents for change in all kind of ways.
However, the reality is that whites continue oppressing blacks, it is constant. Throughout history this has been the case, but as Christians Tutu, the author and others who call themselves Christian are called to a higher account. Indeed, Christians must place our trust in God, not societal norms, and overcome the past of our ancestors and build a place for community and trust across race, age, gender and identity through missional communities. In order to achieve this Tutu states that we must address all the causes of violence if we are to bring it to an end. We must keep our wits about us and build a safe place in our own towns, cities, schools, colleges, workplaces, communities and neighborhoods to stop from this continuing. We must be impartial and sincere, quick to listen and slow to speak and fundamentally aware of those around us. Not just ourselves. Through embodying “real reconciliation” it is the author’s desire to research and establish safe spaces where people can ask questions and not be judged or oppressed for how they look or where they come from.
For this to happen the author proposes to explore four things in this project:
To establish three clear character and personality traits that represent the Reconciliation and Ubuntu Tutu defines and apply them clearly to New York & London via social media
To build a Social Media project which asks questions, builds a conversation and creates a platform for people to consider how Ubuntu can reconcile with peoples in their lives.
To build a second Social Media project to give thanks and to reconcile with our communities through sharing the miracle of kindness throughout the month of November
To make recommendations based upon this semester reading, research, reflections and social media campaigns to develop strategies to build equality and community faith-based conversations.
Reconciliation Made Possible Through Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy
The past relationships the author has personally formed in and through community have been through the Sports Ministry Free & Fit, formally known as Faith and Fitness. It is from this community that we will form the basis for conversation about Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy in New York City and London. Firstly through a social media campaign with a wider audience of twenty to thirty people selected at random from both my UK and US networks and then more specifically two individuals who have spent one to one time answering questions with the author and who would be able to help reconcile the problems previously discussed in society and personal life. It is with these communities that the author has been able to build a strong bond and through Ministry it is the author’s desire to the process of reconciliation and using Ubuntu this to take place.
Firstly, the author would like to identify that this paper wishes to make no comparisons between the process, the design or the relationships that Desmond Tutu formed when he approached the issues he faced when dealing with Apartheid in South Africa. When Tutu built bridges, he created opportunities for reconciliation between the oppressors, subjects and institutions accountable. When the law was enforced it is only through the aftermath of these horrible experiences and the segregation of black and whites that we can see the positive outcomes from which we cling to and Tutu and Mandela’s work. This paper is approaching different issues and seeking to learn, not compare from Tutu’s work.
Secondly, the difference between reality and reconciliation, as defined by Husserl in Philosophy, is that of only a process of intentionality, building barriers around the edges of the obvious distractions of pain and hurt that must have bound Tutu, and what essentially would have enabled him to believe in his work. The post-apartheid reality is that problems still exist even today and even the best persons testimony from this period of history may not have provided the desired outcome of reconciliation from their oppressors in their lifetime. Not all roads and rivers lead to reconciliation. Tutu humbly admits this in his own reflections.
When exploring how to apply to Ubuntu to New York or London we must identify clear tangible aspirational personality traits or character goals. The first personality trait this paper address is taken from Tutu’s definition of Ubuntu and this introduces to us the idea of an individual being “open and available (Tutu, 2001)”. This is one of the first traits which Tutu thinks is necessary for us all.
Often in large congregations of Mega Churches, with congregations of over 1,000 people, it must be difficult for the Lead Pastor to be available to all their individuals in a congregation. For example, Joel Osteen must have a real issue with being able to speak to all his congregants. However, in a smaller congregation the Pastor or Priest may be waiting at the end of the service to greet their congregants on the way out, one by one and personally each by name with a hug or a handshake. This is a very different approach and a very different feeling for the member of that specific Church. We are all called to be open and available, but it maybe more difficult for some of us than others.
The second personality trait Tutu accredits to someone living out Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy is that of a “self-assurance that does not falter based on a person, or other persons, success or failings (Tutu, 2001). This is difficult to define. Perhaps it’s easier to imagine that you are a parent on a Sunday morning with twins, one twin score the home run and the other is on the field playing with flowers making daisy chains in the field and misses the vital catch. Do you focus on the homerun, dismiss the wonderful daisy chains that were made and forget about the contrasting differences between the two twins or do you exalt one over the other and laud their misfortune over them? Instead, if like Tutu, they both can be celebrated, the process needs to be for everyone to be considered equal without prioritizing one over the other. A very difficult task for any parent. Yet Tutu insists it’s still possible. Declaring that with God it is possible. As a community we need to develop the ability to see people in the image of God so they can be welcomed into community and celebrated for who they are. Made perfectly and created in Gods image.
The third and final part of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy explanation was that of a person could be defined as “remaining supportive of a person despite any oppression, opportunity or obstacle they may face in life (Tutu, 2001)”. Tutu, again focusing on the ability to view all people as a son or daughter of God, explains that there is a possibility for reconciliation at every step of the process in friendship and through relationship in community all things are possible for equality and support.
These three traits and the definition of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy help us to questions our own personality, character and values-based system. Questions about Ubuntu remain unanswered and so as part of the social media project constructed during this semester proposed to discuss these issues with ministry connections and to ask individuals directly what they thought about the issues, the persons in their community and how they could interact better. Below you can find the questions, topics and issues presented. Firstly, a wider audience was as asked three simple open questions and then two individuals were targeted who had experienced and encountered modern day injustices in New York or London. These individuals enable the author to explore deeper and more thoughtful issues.
The first questions were presented as follow:
What is your definition of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy?
How can we apply that definition to the North Eastern United States (or the area you live)?
What can we do as individuals to improve the community we live and serve in.
These questions were asked to friends and members of the authors networks who were involved in Ministry, had been a part of the ministry for more than one year or who had attended in some format that was approved and welcomed by the local Church.
The second questions were as outlined above in terms of personality traits and focused on applying these traits to three different persons or institutions in reference to an Ubuntu ambassador.
The personality traits were selected from his book and the earlier quote we defined in the previous section of this paper. Ubuntu Ambassadors are:
They are open and available
They have a self-assurance that does not falter based on a person, or other persons, success or failings
They remain supportive of others if their friend or colleague faces oppression, opportunity or obstacle.
These personality traits were applied to three types of people/institutions:
The Christian Church
On reflection of the social media project itself it made the author realize, especially after reading the Archbishop’s book with the Dali Lama, that the community had to focus not on only reconciliation with a person, institution or even the Church, but New York and London itself. As a City the author personally felt that he had not forgiven New York for the experiences he had encountered there. As a result, the author wanted to meet with its people, run (physically) on its streets and give thanks for New York. So, then a new social media campaign was planned, in collaboration with a friend from the United Kingdom and it was to be called “Share the Miracle.” This campaign had previously been done this at Easter in Hoboken at the Homeless Shelter, Closter in New Jersey with local Businesses and with students at NYU University. This November the author wanted to interview people what they were thankful for, why they were thankful and if they would share it on social media.
As a result, over the thirty days of November the author interviewed thirty people and asked them who they were thankful for and why they were thankful. It was an amazing campaign with over thirty videos, over twelve different nationalities and experiences from London, Washington DC and New York residents.
The impact of Reconciliation of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy
As identified in our questions for the first part of the Social Media campaign on Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger the author collected several responses from peers, friends and ministry contacts who live in London and New York. There were profound findings which helped to formulate a feeling of the people in these cities and their desire to reconcile their relationships in community. The bizarre reality in modern society is that a lot of people sited loneliness and a lack of community as a reality due to the process of creating time, access and opportunity for community due to the busyness of their lives. Therefore, the reconciliation which they felt that needed to take place was between their community and themselves. There are nine sample responses listed in the appendices which can be read at the readers leisure.
The first question was about how the individual would personally define Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy. This question was asked to establish a clear understanding of the concept and for the individual to articulate they understood what Ubuntu meant to them through their own cognitive thinking. The responses were both informative and telling of how the population who were asked did not know about Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy, but could appreciate how it could impact their lives.
One respondent stated that the Ubuntu reconciliation of being open and available could be defined as:
“This to me means embracing community as a means of tackling life’s challenges, hardships and at the same time embracing and welcoming celebrations as well. Leaning on each other and holding each other accountable in a loving Christ like way (Respondent 1, Appendix 4, 2019.)’
This definition helps us to establish a clear pathway for reconciliation to do life together which identifies that individuals need to build authentic, genuine and real relationships with others for real reconciliation to take place between loneliness and community. However, their remains a lack of understanding of Ubuntu and perhaps more importantly a lack of understanding of what true reconciliation means practically. For example, one respondent stated that “this is the first time I heard about Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy (Appendix 4, 2019).” Others were unable to reply to the author’s questions as they felt so uncertain about the topic. Respondents five and six both refrained from answering the questions stating that “Hmm. Not sure I'd know how to help with this...sorry I can’t be more helpful (Respondent 5, 2019) and “I am unfortunately not familiar with Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy (Respondent 6, 2019).”
It is perhaps important for us to refer to back Archbishop Desmond Tutu definition if we are really to understand what Ubuntu really means. We have referred to it as “Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy” throughout this paper. This is because the term Ubuntu theology maybe inaccurate. The Archbishop believes that it can be applied to all different peoples, nations and faith traditions. However, this does create problems as both Christians and non-Christians may perceive it, or even worse, misrepresent the concept. Tutu himself remarked that the “Bible, our faith and its tradition declare unequivocally that for an authentic Christian existence the absolute priority must be spirituality, (Tutu, 2001)” This is perhaps a loose theological explanation and contains little description as to exactly what Spirituality he is referring to. With such questions coming from the founder of the Philosophy himself it is no wonder questions remain.
In fact, the author viewed a video, top search under “Ubuntu” on YouTube, which is by a gentleman named “Lockley” and misrepresents Ubuntu and relates to a Sangoma community which maybe subscribing to an animistic spirituality and belief in ancestral Spirits. Which is indeed counter-cultural to Christian doctrine (YouTube, 2019 and One to One Respondent One).
For us to draw a theme for reconciliation the author needs to refer to Tutu and below we see his definition of reconciliation between oneself and community.
“We are bound together in what the bible calls "the bundle of life". Our humanity is caught up in that of all others. We are human because we belong. We are made for community, for togetherness, for family, to exist in a delicate network of interdependence. Truly, "it is not good for man to be alone," for no one can be human alone (Tutu, 2001)
As we reflect on Tutu’s quote, we recognize similarities between loneliness and not being alone. The respondents all made references to togetherness and community with friends and family. It is also imperative to gain more insightful and detailed responses to specific Church, Leader and Discipleship based responses. The second question in the first set of responses did enable the author to see opportunities for building a new social media campaign using thankfulness, reconciling differences between communities in Coffee Shops, Retail Shops, Local Businesses, Churches, Universities and a Homeless Shelter in Hoboken and Westwood New Jersey.
One respondent said that reconciliation for them meant to “build relations with another person and that it is one of the important things of being a Christian. (Respondent 4, 2019). Furthermore, respondent one stated that “more encouragement is needed to explore difference and celebrate difference in the Church and or outside of Church. Also, looking for what we hold in common despite any differences (Respondent One, 2019) Based on these responses it is important for people build community and bridge a gap between diverse opinions and find commonalities amidst the diversity of difference. Whilst constructing this research an online campaign of giving thanks was happening throughout November providing opportunities to record reasons for thankfulness across nations, families and friends. This helps us to approach our third question where respondents felt that more needed to be done to reconcile differences across “issues of economic, environmental and racial injustice (Respondent 7, 2019)”. This included “having conversations across generations, cultures, race, gender, ability and age (respondent one, 2019). Then to enable to this to happen those participating “must recognize your own reasons for seeking community. And not always looking for what you may get out of it, but also what you can give or learn (Respondent one, 2019)”.
The respondents were evidently passionate about a need for injustices and differences to be overcome through reconciliation. Not dissimilar to that of Tutu himself when dealing with the differences in South Africa when pursuing reconciliation. In New York City and London, the respondents felt that it was essential for individuals to act. It is imperative, according to respondent three, that “the individual is aware of who they really are themselves and only then can reconciliation be expressed outwards to better communities, nations and globally (Adapted from Respondent 3, 2019)”.
Identifying the self in New York and London can be a difficult process given the number of self-help, psychological organizations and increased awareness of mental health issues today. Therefore, it is imperative people remain not isolated, that they can work with other people and be a part of community. Respondents felt it important to express that it is not just the role of the Church to eradicate the issues of injustice and indifference. “As Christians together we form the body of Christ, the Church, every part is important. Discrimination is not just a Christian thing, but we all need to take part (Respondent 4, 2019) Respondent three went further to say that “Sadly, there is too much self-hate, lack of respect, lack of self-esteem, poverty thinking and me, myself and I think we are being propagated in a society where love gets lost (Respondent 3, 2019).
Not all is lost, and every community has a part to play in reconciling differences and injustices. Through the development of a successful; social media campaign, after five very frustrating first attempts, the author constructed a thanksgiving campaign throughout November called “Share the Miracle” in collaboration with a friend from the UK. This campaign reached a variety of nations including active participants from Great Britain, Australia, America, Ukraine, South America, the Middle East and Europe. The next section of this paper dives deeper into the ways in which we can build community and reconciliation through Ubuntu style reconciliation techniques like the “Share the Miracle campaign”.
Reconciliation beyond the Church. The problem with Ubuntu
We have already seen how Ubuntu can be misunderstood and it is important that we identify when implementing and defining Ubuntu that perhaps it is not just used in an all-inclusive approach as identified by Tutu. Instead, perhaps being open, available and accountable there can be more stability. It is just as important for community to hold each other together in times of struggle as well as during times of success to affirm their friendship through all circumstances. In our first set of responses to our one to one question one of the interviewees remarked that “I don’t think Ubuntu is theology – it is a philosophy – a mindset a behavior. It can complement certain theologies (Respondent One Interview Questions, 2019).”
Therefore, when we think to implement changes and build bridges between ourselves and community it is important to use non-threatening and mutually inclusive methods to establish common ground. Yet as Christians we are called to a higher account, a life of sacrifice and a process of surrendering ourselves to God. As we seek to please God we must repent of any sin through purgation and confession and to build community one must do so with a scared covenant.
This type of covenant is similar to that of a covenant between a man and a woman in marriage, or between Jesus Christ and God in John 17 when he prays for all believers or between God and Israel to deliver us his people from death and destruction in the Old Testament. Such covenants are hard to define and provide a deeper level of responsibility, relationship and commitment for them to be successfully implemented in community. Such a covenant needs to be prayed about, planned and essentially nurtured in groups with openness, availability and accountability for them to be successful. Here it is again imperative that we refer to Tutu as to why Ubuntu can potentially provide the solution to help individuals overcome the loneliness, difficulties and injustices of New York and London.
Tutu states that “anger, resentment, lust for revenge, even success through aggressive competitiveness, are corrosive of doing good. To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. What dehumanizes you inexorably dehumanizes me. It gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them (Tutu, 2001) According to Tutu when we apply Ubuntu it is for both the freedom of carrying unforgiveness and the independence of releasing people from an injustice, whether that be ours or their injustice.
Our respondents felt that the level of responsibility for instilling an Ubuntu philosophy should not just lie with Christian leaders, but with the whole Church.
“Using Ubuntu to improve communities is by practicing what you preach - modelling the behavior. Slow down. Spend time. Understand people, their needs, their dreams. Find ways to help them meet those needs and dreams. This applies to all Christians. Leaders, Disciples and the Church (Respondent One from One to One Interviews, 2019).”
This reflection really gives a great insight into how we as a people rather than individuals or institutions can work together to create community. To not be alone, to help each other workout differences and overcome injustices together.
The process of establishing such a community can be difficult due to the limitations of one individual or the vastness of one community. When focusing on the Church one respondent stated that the experience of implementing Ubuntu like Philosophy can vary wildly and that “the Church can be either the most supportive place in the world on the most traumatic and alienating, (Respondent Two One to One Interviews, 2019).” Such experiences are real and can cause more harm than good. Therefore, the importance of accountability is even more important and therefore all Christians, the Church and wider Body of Christ must be accountable. The openness and availability of any individual is subject to their personal spirituality, condition and Church experience. When seeking to reconcile, forgive and develop community it is therefore the author’s advice to seek for the Church to set up support groups, council groups and online groups to live out Ubuntu.
The struggle and problem with the Ubuntu Philosophy and approach is the danger of forgetfulness of the self. The damage caused by not addressing the pain and hurt which people carry. Instead of acknowledging the problem, dismissing and giving blind forgiveness, we should all be held accountable in healthy, open and honest communities. From the one to one interviews we could draw the conclusion that the problems urbanites face today is that busyness and expectation paralyses them from being able to spend time doing what they seek to do or, no less, distract them from being able to do what they desire to do with their free time.
This doesn’t mean we have to condemn everybody, but that we must love them enough to endorse them for our support to help them transform them into Christs image.
Through community with open, available and accountable access we can all live, learn and grow in our faith, in our humanity and in our knowledge of each other. So perhaps it is not necessarily an easy solution, but Desmond Tutu’s life, ministry and testimony were not easy. His joy came despite negativity, revolting against Apartheid during adversity, his trials taught him to laugh and his habitual nature taught him how to respond in ways which would protect him from the realities he faced. Therefore, we must not be blind to the difficulties he faced and to the difficulties we face today. All at the same time not glorifying the pain and turning our own perspective into a victim’s mentality. As noted in our reflections from the one to one interviews and respondents our lives are at stake, our mental health, economic turmoil and political unrest are real issues in the democracy of our publics.
Perhaps the political unrest of our day may not be of the same level of conflict in Tutu’s day, but the democracies which govern our countries continue to confuse and challenge us all. In a time where elections happen every six years, impeachments are normal occurrences and leaving Europe is a four- or five-year process; nothing is what we could call normal today.
The author would like to state on record the depths and attempts it took to get responses for the social media campaigns for this assignment and to re-iterate the process in which engaging with communities online in itself can be a lonely and challenging process.
However, the joy that the “Share the Miracle” campaign brought to the author is immeasurable. In its own way it was a reconciliation with the city of New York creating a platform for thanksgiving and kindness. Every day the author would interview a friend from Church, a community member or somebody from the public. The process taught patience, kindness and built relationships.
However, the obvious downfall was the limitations of the recordings being only short and the engagement with the publics being only very short. As a result, the author seeks to use “Sharing the Miracle, every day. Through the season of Christmas, the author is asking friends why they are grateful for hope, peace love and joy in the advent season. This follows the Share the Miracle campaign and builds a platform for engaging with people across social media in healthy, joyful and purposeful ways.
In conclusion, Desmond Tutu was an astonishing man. Providing us all with a reason to laugh instead of cry. To share a joke instead of inwardly coward away from a situation. As noted by the Philosopher Kierkegaard laughter is the only response to life’s misfortunes. This was Tutu to a tea. He brought light to the room, positivity in face of adversity and love instead of hate. A nature we still so desperately need today.
This paper draws on his personality, his character and draws conclusions about how his openness and availability were helpful, but that if misguided, abused or misrepresented the philosophy of Ubuntu could get lost.
The message of Gods love would be lost during self-pity or a lack of self-awareness without accountability. The author would like to suggest finding sermons, illustrations and parts of the two selected texts for this paper, “Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu” and “No Future without Forgiveness” to write curriculum to create an environment for Tutu’s character traits to be identified and offered as part of 6 to 12 week course in Christian Discipleship. This would then be able to be filtered to Christian Leaders, the Church and to make Disciples of all nations. From here we can follow Jesus teachings and “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).”
John Allen. (2006), “Rabble-Rouser for Peace: The Authorized Biography of Desmond Tutu”,
London: Rider Books, or New York: Free Press.
Michael Battle. (2009) “Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond
Tutu”. Pilgrim Press, Cleveland.
Antjie Krog, Country of My Skull, Cape Town, Random House, 1998
Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing
World”, New York: Avery, 2016
Desmond Tutu. (2009) “Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me”, (New York: Seabury Books).
Desmond Tutu (2017) “Heaven on Earth: A Call to Community in the Book of
Revelation”, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox).
Desmond Tutu, (1981) “Black Theology/African Theology -- Soul Mates or
Antagonists?” In: J.H. Cone & G. S. Wilmore (eds.) Black Theology: A Documentary
History, Volume I 1966-1979. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York.
Desmond Tutu. (2001) “No Future without Forgiveness”. Doubleday, New York.
Appendix One - Social Media Project One - Instagram
Appendix Two – Social Media Campaign Two Facebook
Appendix Three - Social Media Campaign Three Whatsapp
Appendix Four - Social Media Project Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp Chat
Appendix Five - Share the Media Social Campaign – Facebook and Instagram
Appendix Six – Unedited Seven Sample Responses
Appendix Seven – Responses from One to One Interviews
Appendix Social Media Project One - Instagram
Attempted Social Media Project on Reflections of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy Campaign One: Instagram Three posts included likes, but no comments or responses.
Appendix Two – Social Media Campaign Two Facebook
After two weeks of trying to create a platform for discussion on Instagram I tried Facebook. Here is the response to my Facebook campaign. Again, I did three posts here without a response under the same hashtag. #tutulightandlife
Appendix Three - Social Media Campaign Three Whatsapp My third attempt is to construct a Whatsapp campaign and discussion with people from US, UK and Europe in hope of a response. This will include a reflection of my own and my own desire to find Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy in the Church with my oppressors. The Priests of religion. “Hey everyone. As part of my seminary education I have been asked to construct a social media project which has failed across Facebook and Instagram already. I would like to discuss with your theory of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy which was a part of the life and story of Desmond Tutu and his battle against Apartheid. Hillsong has been our home mutually since the summer of 2016 in London (myself summer 2013) and open this conversation to seek the type of community Tutu describes. If possible, please hold us in prayer at this time. To define Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy is best done this way. I prepared a power point to our class two weeks ago and share this with you now to define Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy. Sadly I don’t have access to my PowerPoint, but I do an earlier reflection of Ubuntu. Here is the definition of my own understanding: Tutu's Ubuntu Philosophy creates new roads and rivers to an inclusive fellowship where those who have been oppressed can be heard, speak out and interact with their oppressors and where those who have historically caused harm repent, reconcile and ultimately accept their fellow brothers and sisters of different race, class or ethnicity. Love & Blessings Tim.” Certainly my campaign is out there. Not just between student and teacher, but we seem to be without a response. New techniques and technologies will be attempted for my second submission. Apologies for the frank and honest submission of this entry. Blessings Tim
Appendix Four Social Media Project Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp Chat
These three traits and the definition of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy are questions which remain unanswered today and so as part of my social media project I proposed to discuss these issues with my ministry connections and to ask them directly what they thought about the issues, the persons in their community and how we should interact. Below you can find the questions, topics and issues I presented to my two target markets. Firstly, I asked a wider survey of questions with just three questions and then targeted just two individuals to answer deeper and more thoughtful responses.
The first questions were presented as follow:
What is your definition of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy?
How can we apply that definition to the North Eastern United States (or the area you live)?
What can we do as individuals to improve the community we live and serve in.
These questions were asked to friends and members of my networks who were involved in Ministry, had been a part of my ministry or attended in some format one way another a ministry event I have been involved in.
The second questions were as follows, in reference to an Ubuntu ambassador:
They are open and available
They have a self-assurance that does not falter based on a person, or other persons, success or failings
They remain supportive of others if their friend or colleague faces oppression, opportunity or obstacle
These traits were then applied to a character trait of different types of people/institutions:
The Christian Church
On reflection of the social media project itself it made me realize, especially after reading the Archbishop’s book with the Dali Lama, that I had to focus not on reconciliation with a person, institution or even the Church, but New York itself. As a City I had not forgiven New York. As a result, I wanted to meet with its people, run on its streets and give thanks for New York. So, then I planned a social media campaign, in collaboration with a friend from the United Kingdom, called “Share the Miracle.” I had previously done this at Easter in Hoboken at the Homeless Shelter, Closter with local Businesses and with students at NYU University. This November I wanted to interview people what they were thankful for, why they were thankful and if they could let me interview them.
As a result, over the 30 days of November I interviewed 30 people and asked them who they were thankful for and why they were thankful. It was an amazing experience and once which really brought joy to my life.
Appendix Five Share the Media Social Campaign – Facebook and Instagram
Picture taken of November Share the Miracle campaign as part of the author’s Free and Fit Ministry. Hashtag used for this campaign is focused on thanksgiving and #sharethemiracle
Appendix Six – Unedited Seven Sample Responses
1) Definition of Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy: quite a human centered approach which is set in the context of encountering difference and one's response to difference, particularly if negative. It is a way of acknowledging and dealing with difficult emotions, the ones we try to hide by bringing it into the light and not making it so "dark" or untouchable (the response to difference).
2) Application to London:
More encouragement to explore difference and celebrate difference in church and/ or outside church. Also looking for what we hold in common despite any differences. Training on how to acknowledge and understand difficult emotions and where to "put" them.
Allow for creative expression, different voices and styles of worship, flexibility and adaptability to services or meetings. Finding out what people think. Use of different communication styles.
3) Individuals: be willing to acknowledge the "darkness" in our own hearts and share it with someone. Have accountability for this. Look out for new things, but don't necessarily dismiss the old traditions. Have conversations across generations, cultures, race, gender, ability and age. Recognize your own reasons for seeking community. And not always looking for what you may get out of it, but also what you can give or learn.
My Answers, if they make any sense.
1) This to me means embracing community as a means of tackling life’s challenges hardships as well as celebrations. Leaning on each other and holding each other accountable in a loving Christ like way.
2) I think the concept of connect groups (Hillsong Church) overlaps with this concept, but perhaps being more public in the open community may help bring more people into faith. For example, meeting and discussing at a coffee shop instead of a home invites other in the community to peek inside the Christian community and become curious about Christ
3) Be inclusive and open to sharing faith and inviting people to church without being pushy. Praying for unity within community
Since I have only just heard of it, I can only make a couple of comments! We are divine creatures made in God's image. I don't necessarily agree in the outmoded patriarchal values. We are all equal. And if the individual is aware of who they really are, only then can that be expressed outwards to better communities, nations and globally. Sadly, there is too much self-hate, lack of respect, lack of self-esteem, poverty thinking and me, myself and I think we are being propagated in a society where love gets lost.
This is the first time I heard about Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy, for me relations with another person is one of the important things of being a Christian. For me equality, every person is unique and important. As Christians together we form the body of Christ, the Church, every part is important. Discrimination is not just a Christian thing. We all need to take part. I can't help I am White…So can you give me more info to this subject.
Hmm. Not sure I'd know how to help with this...sorry I can’t be more helpful. Sorry, Tim! Also, I probably won’t have time to watch & answer and Tim the reality today is Facebook is pay to play chances are nobody saw your posts. You didn’t fail... people probably just never saw your posts. I’m sure what your doing is worthwhile and don’t get discouraged with people not being able to respond straight away.
Hey Tim. I hope you are well. I am unfortunately not familiar with Tutu’s Ubuntu Philosophy. Hope you’re able to communicate clearly in your presentation. Sorry to be of no help.
Well I think like that often when Christian communities are working on issues for Justice. For example, when the Churches in the UK were uniting against pay day lenders the Churches were advocating together which would impact the wider community and would mean the Church would work with marginalized groups. There are lots of issues of economic, environmental and racial injustice. There is also a big problem with people living in housing injustices and so the Church could advocate for healthy housing, access to housing and affordable housing in real terms. I can be more pro-active listening to other people’s experiences and being more involved with Christian communities working on projects that I think are important.
Tim, I was recalling one of the stories from Rabble Rouser for Peace. Tutu’s sister recalled him, at a young age, as they were standing on a train platform on a very cold day waiting, giving away his second sweater to a boy he saw without one. I love how the Archbishop time and again reminds us that our wholeness is bound up in one another’s. That our spiritual wellness and connectedness with God is enriched by the ways we offer care to one another. I would think this kind of ethic would be essential to any kind of community or team experience. Every member is deeply valued, just as we are deeply loved by God. Will swoop back around! Peace.
Not a lot of time this week, so this is short, but great questions.
1. We know our humanity in community because we are Imago Dei and God the Trinity is community known as love.
2. I keep wanting to know how to do this, so far via small groups where we share stories, become community on deeper level 3. Again, sharing stories in small groups like Anne Silver's Group Spiritual Direction, setting a sacred contract for sharing, offering a good question for people to share.
Appendix Seven – Responses from One to One Interviews via Facebook Chat
Respondent One from One to One Interviews
I am no expert on the application of the Ubuntu philosophy into western - particularly Christian / contexts. I am no expert on Ubuntu. Actually. I think the scholarly study and research of the philosophical history is quite new. It can be very populist and quite shallow - with different people picking and choosing soundbites that fit their existing or idealized world view. Chocolate boxy. This can be a problem.
But I want to help so here goes. My understanding of Ubuntu is “I am because you are.” We are all inextricably connected. Your actions - directly or indirectly - affect me. “It takes a village to raise a child”. Ubuntu sees people not as individuals, but one organism - with different people (organs) playing different functions in order to survive and thrive.
The element of time plays an important role. To understand, to empathize, we must be patient, we must spend quality time getting to understand the needs of others. Busyness and greed are the enemies of Ubuntu.
I don’t think Ubuntu is theology - it is a philosophy - a mindset - a behavior. It can complement certain theologies. I do wonder if you could gain more insight by searching out more of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s references to Ubuntu. I haven’t come across Lockley before, but I’d apply his teachings with caution and discernment. It is my assumption, that as a sangoma, he will be subscribing to an animistic spirituality and the belief in ancestral spirits.
Using Ubuntu to improve communities is by practicing what you preach - modelling the behavior. Slow down. Spend time. Understand people, their needs, their dreams. Find ways to help them meet those needs and dreams. This applies to all Christians. Leaders, Disciples and the Church, but to be honest it really depends on the institution. Leader. Christian etc. It is difficult to paint in broad strokes like that. Overall, I would rank leaders of the church i.e. pastors on the ground floor in the mess with people as ranking highest and maintaining these qualities. Then the disciples and then the church as institution/org
Hope this helps. Keep me posted!
Respondent Two from One to One Interviews
Christian Leaders are sometimes open and available and sometimes not. I think it depends on their personality and their motivation for being in ministry. I think it is hard for them to have unfaltering self-assurance because they are often in the spotlight and either idolized or criticized by others. The good ones are supportive, but sometimes many are not because they are worried about church politics or public impressions/image.
Christian Disciples I feel the same way about this as leaders, but I guess someone being a true disciple would do all those things well, being authentic and modeling Christ.
I don’t find the church to be very open or available...it depends a lot on which church. I think the church is self-assured often, because it rests its confidence in scripture and tradition. The church can be either the most supportive place in the world on the most traumatic and alienating; people’s experienced differ wildly.
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