Have just read Conversations with my Sons and Daughters by Mamphela Ramphela, respected academic and public commentator in South Africa. Absorbing – with emphasis on the importance of South Africans becoming citizens rather than subjects. Subjects passively accept the decisions of their chiefs/kings/politicians. Citizens understand their rights and duties as citizens in a democracy and feel free to disagree, challenge and expect accountability. In the chapter where she links this with the importance of a value system, she says this:
“A related issue pertains to how we have gravitated towards becoming a nation that has reduced ‘being’ into ‘having’, to borrow Fannon’s words. ‘Being’ is what defines us as human. We pride ourselves as South Africans on the value we place on Ubuntu which could be translated as ‘beingness’ – as a core of our philosophical orientation. One would have expected that ‘being’ would be a feature of our social relationships rather than ‘having’. Unfortunately the deprivations and injustices they suffered in the past as a result of social engineering that reduced the majority population to poverty have contributed to their obsession with material possessions. Many former political activists are compensating for lost time by focusing on the acquisition of wealth at all cost.”
While I think greed for material wealth is an inevitable outcome of capitalism, I do see more ‘being’ rather than ‘doing and ‘having’, as a graceful solution. Resting in ‘being’ I know that my humanity is the most important thing, and that I share it with every other human being.