I am, because of you

One of my greatest heroes recently passed away, Nelson Mandela. Seeing his image or hearing his name makes me proud to be human, just happy to exist. So it was with heavy heart I received the news of his death. If we want to be more like him it is fitting to explore his philosophy of life. He had a simple credo, Ubunto, which I think, can be applicable to Syntheism as well.

The idea is that what we are, as humans, is created by others. Our place in our communities defines who we are. The human as a purely social animal. Without a collective to share with, we do exist, but not as humans. We need others to care about, affirm their feelings, hopes and desires and in turn be affirmed by others. People are not people, without other people.


I am because of you.

The longitudinal Grant study, where 237 Harvard students have been followed for 75 years, does strongly indicate that sharing and giving to others is what makes us happy. Another way to say it is that Ubuntu seems to be hard-wired into our genes. So we might as well live by it.

It’s not a complicated credo follow. But it is hard. It requires you to let go of your ego now and again and focus completely on somebody else, to allow yourself to be there for others.

Quotes on Ubuntu

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – 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.”

– Desmond Tutu

“A person is a person through other people strikes an affirmation of one’s humanity through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance”.

– Michael Onyebuchi Eze

“A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and attend him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?”

-Nelson Mandela



One thought on “I am, because of you

  1. Ben

    Philosophy is ones own perspective. Whether that belief is learned from another, a book, or gleened by oneself it exists only in the minds of those that beleive and agree with it for we only exist conciously in our own minds and have our own philosophies which don’t always agree with others. We are only our senses and have no way to proove 100% that anything is really a truth. All the question words can only be answered by what we have accepted because we have no choice but to accept those five senses we possess. As far as interaction with others and being a social species, I agree with that. Those define us in a simple way but “I am because I am”. I beleive infinity exists. In that, I had to exist and every eventuality with every other personal interaction exists also, simultainously. Time runs in both directions. We, and everyone else on this almost nothing and at the same time immensely huge sized planet are intricatly connected. We are but one possibility in an endless, timeless, ceaseless, everything. Our minds can’t grasp this concept. Nothing and everything are the same thing and at the same time completely opposite. Infinity dictates this. Something came from nothing, nothing came from something, and nothing and something came from the same place. No Place. It/we exist because it/we had to. The ultimate paradox. I’m sure it gets immensly more complicated. Think fractals.


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