Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others.*
Art calls us to recognise our pain and aspirations and open our minds to others. Art helps us […] to realise that we are not alone.’**
It was an evening for supporting a charity involved in the education of young people in a country thousands of miles away.
Stories of some of these young lives were shared in a variety of ways, set within an evening of simple art: poems, songs, photographs, storyboards, doodles and sketches. Those who had gathered sometimes laughed and sometimes deeply sighed in connection at the sense of profound truth. We were reminded of ubuntu: I am because we are.
This is an experience we’re increasingly alienated from but trying to rediscover:
“We seek a private house, a private means of transportation, a private garden, a private laundry, self-service stores, and do-it-yourself skills of every kind. An enormous technology seems to have set itself the task of making it unnecessary for one human being to ask another in the course of going about his daily business. […] We seek more and more privacy, and feel more and more alienated and lonely when we get it.”^
Sociologist Philip Slater was writing in 1970 about American society but could have been describing most Western societies. Almost fifty years later, our worlds are even more separated – our poor rich world:
‘Every social association that is not face-to-face is injurious to your health.’^^
Some believe the next Human age will be one of ubuntu – finding one another. It will not be easy.
We come across people who are so different to us that we feel we can never find anything in common. Yet, when we transcend our differences, we find we have more in common than we know – everyone has a deep richness to bring:
‘Whoever is capable of giving of himself is rich.’*^
(*Alan Watts, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: I and Thou.)
(**From Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.)
(^Philip Slater, quoted in Kosuke Koyama’s Three Mile an Hour God.)
(^^From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)
(*^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)