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What Do Tutu, Einstein, Gandhi and King Have In Common?

Thanks to Stephen Pope for sharing these quotes...

The following is paraphrased from a speech by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who died this week):

"We all know that we are made for freedom, and even if you stamp on us almost for ever, as a tyrant you have had it, and freedom will come. Human beings will strive after that, for we know inside ourselves that we are made for the transcendent. We are made for the transcendent. In the African languages, we speak of this as something called Ubuuntu.

I would say that the priority for us in life is the development of Ubuuntu; it’s the very essence of being human—knowing that my humanity is caught up in your humanity. Ubuuntu means that a person is a person through other persons, that we are interconnected, that we all belong one to another.

We don’t come fully formed into the world. We learn how to think, how to walk, how to speak, how to behave, indeed how to be human, from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. We are made for togetherness; we are made for family, for fellowship, to exist in a tender network of interdependence.

When one of us goes down, ultimately we all go down. If you are dehumanized, then inexorably I am dehumanized. For me to be whole, you have to be whole; if you are a perpetrator, a torn and broken human being who has lost your humanity, then I too am less than whole. So for me to be the person God wants me to be, you must be the person God wants you to be. That’s Ubuuntu."

In the same spirit, the 20th-centrury physicist Albert Einstein wrote:

"Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other, above all, for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much of my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of others, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received and am still receiving."

These same sentiments are to be found in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., and of Lao Tzu, and of Jesus of Nazareth. I find it especially worthy of note that Einstein reminds us that both our inner and outer lives are linked to the lives of others.


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