| from Dr. Kathy Koch |

Are you competitive? Are your children? Are there times when the idea of being other-centered flies out the window? Do we ignore teachings like “One for all”? Rather, do we live as if “King of the Mountain” isn’t a game, but life instead?

I still remember some of my very competitive second graders I taught many years ago. Winning was everything! We’d have to talk about negative attitudes toward teammates who they blamed for team losses. It didn’t matter if it was a type of spelling bee or a game we played in the gym. 

Winning is my preference, too. I bet it’s yours. But, we need to win without pride and lose without whining. And what if we could learn to cooperate? Wouldn’t we all benefit?

Ubuntu would be good for us and for our culture. Perhaps you’ve seen the following story shared on Facebook:

An anthropologist showed a game to the children of an African tribe. He placed a basket of delicious fruits near a tree trunk and told them that the first child to reach the tree would get the basket.

When he gave them the start signal, he was surprised that they walked together, holding hands until they reached the tree and shared the fruit!

He asked them why they did that when everyone of them could have gotten the basket only for themselves!

They answered with “Ubuntu.” That is, how can one of us be happy while the rest are miserable?

Ubuntu originated with the Nguni people, a group of closely related ethnic groups that reside in Southern Africa. It means “humanity to others” with a connotation of “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Ubuntu recognizes that people and groups form their identities in relation to one another. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it this way in his 2005 book, God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. 

What do you think? Would we all benefit from Ubuntu? How could we make it more likely to define us and influence our identity and belonging? When will we get started?

** Have you read my book, Five to Thrive? Many principles in there will help us live more of an Ubuntu life. Check it out. 

Dr. Kathy Koch (“cook”), is the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas. She has influenced thousands of parents, teachers, and children in 30 countries through keynote messages, seminars, chapels, banquet talks, and other events. She is a regular speaker for Care Net, Summit Ministries, and Axis. She also speaks for other organizations, churches, schools, and pregnancy resource centers. In addition, she hosts Celebrate Kids conferences through their Ignite the Family conference division. She is also a popular guest on Focus on the Family radio, she was featured in Kirk Cameron’s movie, Connect, and she has written and published five books with Moody Publishers, including Five to ThriveStart with the Heart, Screens and Teens8 Great Smarts, and No More Perfect Kids (with Jill Savage). Dr. Kathy earned a Ph.D. in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University.