‘Ubuntu’ and the Art of Forgiveness

“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world. Angry people cannot create a peaceful planet”

Nature equipped humanity with both revenge and forgiveness as tools of conflict resolution. But why does one seem so much harder than the other? Forgiveness is emotionally difficult because evolution has endowed us with the psychological motivation to avoid being exploited by others, and the easiest way to prevent exploitation is to hit back or lash out!

Even though the urge to retaliate is deeply rooted in evolutionary history, awareness of the root cause is critical to understanding the frustration behind each personal affliction. I have found that when verbal abuse is prevalent in your interaction with another, forgiveness infused with positive energy becomes your biggest ally. 

At times like this, I am always reminded of a beautiful ‘African tradition’ that I have tried to include in my daily practice, especially when I am called to be fully present, and not take things personally! Such simplicity can certainly prove to be an invaluable power tool when your ego comes to the forefront in an attempt to protect you! 

The African word ‘Ubuntu’ simply means ‘I am because you are’ – it encompasses oneness and reiterates that we are all an integral part of a whole – all equally deserving of love, support, encouragement and forgiveness. I find it quite fascinating that some African tribes have a specific practice around Ubuntu that puts many of our own ‘Western’ ideologies to shame. Maybe we should take a closer look and learn from those deemed less civilized?

Anytime a member of the tribe does something ‘bad’ (breaks tribal laws, steals, harms etc) – rather than punishing them, the rest of the tribe gathers around the person and they all spend the next couple of days reminding the person of all the good they have accomplished in their lives – no matter how big or small.

“They remind them how they’ve been a good friend, father, mother, brother, sister, hunter, gatherer, cook, builder, etc., and they offer the person forgiveness and encouragement to get back on track to being a valuable and respected member of the tribe. And that’s almost always exactly what happens, and harmony is restored.”

These practices are way more progressive than the way similar situations are generally handled in our culture. It works so well because the tribe sees each person’s individual success and education as the responsibility of the whole tribe, whereas we naturally pass judgement by having an opinion and not seeing beyond the ‘crime’ committed.

Such trust, care and support towards common goals is an absolute inspiration and is based on the deep connection between members – offering them a safe space for healing. Why is it that we always make everything so complicated? 

The way of the spirit is to embrace life – all of it – and we need to remember as with ‘Ubuntu’ forgiveness is the name we give for humans coming back together. It is a powerful practice for the ascension of our energy because when we forgive, we release ourselves from the chains that have been holding us down and we escape low vibrational influences.

So when you are faced with an onslaught of mood swings, verbal abuse, anger and ill-tempered behaviour try to remember that you have the ability to become a source of great healing for both yourself and your client when forgiveness leads the way. As emotions are diffused and momentum subsides stand tall in the knowledge that you are supporting the evolution of a peaceful planet one individual at a time!