The other day my friend and website designer asked me what I meant by connection. It was a good question. For me it means parents and children, family, and friends, creating respectful, caring relationships that benefit everyone often for the rest of their lives.
Today I read a story that James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, shared. It and the accompanying explanation by Desmond Tutu expands on what I mean by connection: 1 + 1 > 2 or the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, in other words synergy. A healthy relationship between a parent and child is more than just the connection they share. It becomes a source of strength, resilience, and optimism. It helps a child develop trust and compassion and prepares them for life-long success. As the following story illustrates, connection among friends develops compassion and happiness.
“There was an anthropologist who had been studying the habits and culture of a remote African tribe.
He had been working in the village for quite some time and the day before he was to return home, he put together a gift basket filled with delicious fruits from around the region and wrapped it in a ribbon. He placed the basket under a tree and then he gathered up the children in the village.
The man drew a line in the dirt, looked at the children, and said, “When I tell you to start, run to the tree and whoever gets there first will win the basket of the fruit.”
When he told them to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together to the tree. Then they sat together around the basket and enjoyed their treat as a group.
The anthropologist was shocked. He asked why they would all go together when one of them could have won all the fruits for themselves?
A young girl looked up at him and said, “How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
Here’s how Tutu explained the concept:
“Africans have a thing called ubuntu. We believe that a person is a person through other persons. That my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours. When I dehumanize you, I dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. Therefore you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.”
This young girl understood that when we work and sacrifice together, we all benefit and are happier.
In a world that is fragmenting because of distrust among former friends and neighbors, inhumanity to the innocent and helpless, contention and deception to get gain and hatred to acquire power, we need more ubuntu to restore our humanity.