Harmonious relations are at the heart of Ubuntu, a South African philosophy often expressed in English as “A person is a person through other persons.” Ubuntu contrasts with the individualized Eurocentric perspective on society and instead privileges communion and solidarity. By considering our existence through our relationships to other people, and cherishing harmonious relations with each other, we can more fully understand the importance of peace and justice throughout the world.
The Ubuntuworks Resource Hub provides organizations and individuals with data, stories, studies and support for a more connected and compassionate world.
“The Social Harmony National Effort (SHiNE) was conceptualised to promote social harmony in South Africa, through positive action and dialogue among all who live in South Africa. Our country is composed of a diversity of people, cultures and beliefs, and our Constitution uniquely states that we are to celebrate our diversity. Many countries in the world struggle with diversity, and history has taught us to be ever mindful of our differences and to manage these in a healthy way. This does not mean that our levels of tolerance and respect will expand organically. Developing respect for those who are different from the self does not happen in a society that is spatially separate. Problems occur at the workplace, at schools and at universities because there has been no cultivation of a culture of understanding and respect of those things in society that make us different.
SHiNE affirms the notion that we are interdependent. None will be safe if one is unsafe. None can be well if one is unwell. None can flourish when all are not flourishing. The National Effort calls on all of us to act in unison to forge a collective culture of harmony through dialogue and cultivating understanding and respect. SHiNE has been devised to guide South Africans toward healing, cultivating compassion, mutual respect and a deep appreciation of the fact that we are all interdependent (umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu).
Given the country’s 350 years of colonisation and apartheid, SHiNE encourages us all to be reflective about and to be involved in updating our collective ‘software’ in order to forge a culture aligned to our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
SHiNE requires each of us to practise self reflection and be in touch with our human-ness. Hold family meetings to speak about how to bring harmony into our homes, through positive dialogue. At the workplace to hold regular sharing of ‘my story’ sessions. These are the ‘steps’ of SHiNE and we can all participate in this National Effort. Send us your pictures and experiences on social media. Be part of the solution, be part of the National Effort.”
To learn more, and to show your support, visit https://sahrc.org.za/index.php/shine-home#pledge-section
Photo: Sean Brookes