So this week’s focus is recognition.
I am currently reading a book called Everyday Ubuntu by Mungi Ngomane, Archbishop Tutu’s granddaughter. I am reading it slowly and taking it in deeply – and it is reminding me so much about the importance of recognising that ‘a person is a person through other persons’. In other words I am me because you are you.
I think this concept is never more important than now. It is not true to say that the whole of humanity is experiencing the same thing right now. As we know the COVID – 19 crisis is actually shining a spotlight on the inequity across the planet – with those living in poverty being hit much, much harder than those better off. However in another sense we are all facing a shared threat and the global experience of that threat makes it almost unique in our history. I say ‘almost unique’ because I am well aware that we are all also facing imminent irreversible climate change, but curiously not everyone is aware of that in the same way that we are all aware of COVID-19.
And so in a curious way COVID-19 is bringing us together as we have never been before. We are indeed recognising our human frailty and our vulnerability. We are also hearing worldwide of stories of our human kindness and compassion. We are recognising that it is only by working together and recognising our shared humanity that we will somehow come through this crisis.
And so Ubuntu provides inspiration for those returning to school by providing ways to reach out and recognise that we are all connected, we have all experienced restrictions like nothing we have ever met before, we have all been cut off from friends and family – relying on Wi-Fi (if we are lucky enough to own the right equipment) to stay connected.
Back at school we will get through this strange time – with many students still at home, many staff still unable to return for health or other reasons – by recognising this connection and the flow of give and take that makes us human.
So this week – how are you going to demonstrate your recognition that each colleague and each child or young person matters? That they will be returning with mixed emotions – emotions that may fluctuate through each day – just like you.
How are you going to show your recognition for the very mixed emotions that parents and care-givers will have as they leave their children in your care? How might you reach out?
In South Africa people might say ‘Sawubona!’ – I see you. This demonstrates deep recognition of the link between the speaker and the person they greet. What can we say in English that conveys that same deep sense of recognition I wonder?