I just finished reading The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore, a book outside my usual reads (I say that only because it’s nonfiction). It’s the story of two men named Wes Moore whose lives start off similarly but later venture down drastically different paths. It’s a really great book with excellent lessons, the most important being the idea of ubuntu.
Ubuntu is the Xhosa word for humanity. Moore expands on the term when he retells the story of having tea with his host mother while studying in South Africa. As she relates her experience during the period of apartheid in the country, Moore is amazed by the lack of anger in her voice. He asks her how she was able to forgive those who tormented her and her husband, and she tells him, “‘Because Mr. Mandela asked us to'” (168). It was in that moment that Moore understood ubuntu.
The common bond of humanity and decency that we share is stronger than any conflict, any adversity, any challenge. Fighting for your convictions is important. But finding peace is paramount. Knowing when to fight and when to seek peace is wisdom. Ubuntu was right. (168)
How I wish more people subscribed to this ideal! In this world today, people seem to be more divided than ever. We’re so quick to find fault or be offended by what others say about any topic that it’s impossible to be at peace. And I feel like the Internet has exacerbated the issue. It’s so easy to sit at a keyboard and spout off whatever we think about whatever is happening in the world without thinking of the human element. I admire people who are strong in their convictions, even when I may not agree with their opinion. However, a voiced (or typed, in the case of the Internet) disagreement shouldn’t be grounds for ad hominem attacks or threats. I see these interactions every day on my city’s Facebook group, and all I can do is shake my head and wonder if the same exchange would take place if the participants were face-to-face. I like to think they might be a little kinder in person.
In this day and age, what it boils down to is you can be happy or you can be right. Lately, I find it better for my sanity to choose happy.