Seeing Yourself in Others

Jason was furious. A street person approached his car at a stop light looking for a handout. He expressed his fury to his wife, “Why doesn’t that bum just get a job? There are plenty of jobs available. That’s the problem with our country. Too many people have their hands out. I never had my hand out, and I think we’ve had a good life.”

“So you never had any help? Are you saying that you are self-made?” asked Angela.

“Mostly,” Jason responded.

“What about the help you received from your parents? You told me that your mother took on a second job to help raise the money for you?”

“Good point”, admitted Jason. “I guess I forgot about that.”

“And what about that professor in college who you turned to for many different issues you were facing? You told me that he got you started on your career.”

“Another good point. I’m beginning to think maybe I had more help than I first thought.”

“I believe that if you think about critical moments in your life, you will find that there was someone to help you. I believe I did that for you at some moments as well.”

“You did but think about that bum. Are you saying that his place in life isn’t his own fault?

“Not at all. We don’t know him, but we can’t just assume that he’s a bum and be critical of him since we don’t know his circumstances. I’ve just read a book called Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder. The book is about a doctor who works with the homeless. He has a phrase called pre-admiration that he uses whenever he first meets a homeless person. He looks for a reason to respect and admire that person.”

 Jason was beginning to think how pre-admiration would impact him in other ways, especially in his working relationships with others. Angela wanted to add more thought to the discussion. “In southern Africa, there is a philosophy called Ubuntu(1). It’s about how you live your life. One of the lessons is to See Yourself in Other People. I think you are beginning to see yourself in the life of the homeless man you just met.”

Ubuntu(1) is a concept that should be a part of all our lives. The 14 lessons of Ubuntu are those that are transformative for all of us.

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“See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.” – Wayne Dyer (motivational speaker)

(1)Ngomane, M. (2020). Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better Together, the African Way. Harper; Illustrated Edition.

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