A friend of mine recently shared a story on Facebook that demonstrated Ubuntu philosophy–an African philosophy that is defined to mean, “I am what I am because of who we all are.” I was intrigued, so I began searching the web for more information and came across this quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu who describes Ubuntu philosophy in his book No Future Without Forgiveness as, “The essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” I immediately wondered if anyone had applied this African philosophy to environmental preservation and did another web search, which led me to a TED talk (I love the internet) featuring British economist Tim Jackson, who did just that.
Mr. Jackson is a professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey, founder and director of RESOLVE (Research group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment), former economics commissioner for the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission, and has been an advisor to multiple international organizations and agencies. He believes that the current system is at odds with who we are as people, and cannot support a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions unless we make a shift and invest in the idea of a “meaningful prosperity.” In the spirit of the Ubuntu philosophy, “I am because we are,” Jackson believes that “prosperity is a shared endeavour” that must respect the “ecological limits of a finite planet.”
Watch the Ted Talk:
If more people acknowledged and respected our interconnectedness with each other, animals and nature, we could be more prosperous, happy and healthy. We’re all in this together!