Ubuntu Lessons – From a Geese to Humans


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So in my neck of the woods, winter is officially over. There is increased activity in the sky as birds that had escaped the cold season fly back from   the warm south. Amazing that God gave birds the internal navigation system that tells them when and where to migrate when conditions are unfavourable. Surly this cant be part of the big bang theory!?

We humans also have our “fly away” moments. We may not be escaping the weather, sometimes we need a new flock. We seek places where conditions are favourable to our aspirations, desiring to connect with like – minded people. People who have been where we want to go, or are flying in the SAME direction. It doesn´t mean we think we are better, but the old adage is true: some people come into our lives for a reason or a season. Sometimes a transition is due.

Can you relate? Have you ever been at a place where you realised you had outgrown some settings? You assessed your life and realised the current conditions were not favourable to the vision you had of your future. If yes, I hope to inspire you with a beautiful short story, The Sense of a Goose  (Author unknown). I adapted the story to add lessons that reflect the Ubuntu philosophy.

Ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘humanity to others’. It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole…” Desmond Tutu.


Sometimes the status quo is not conducive to our vision of the future, that’s when like the birds we need to “fly” with like-minded people who “get” what we are about. As it is written; .”As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)  The qualities of the people we constantly associate with, do rub off on us.


5 Ubuntu Lessons – From  Geese to Humans.
When you see geese flying along in “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
#1. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone – and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.  #2. If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are headed the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.              #3. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs. Delegate or train others so you don´t bear all the weight alone.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.                                   #4. What messages do we give when we honk from behind? Do we tear down our leaders and those ahead of us in life or do we encourage and appreciate them?

Finally – and this is important – when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group.
#5. Do we stick by the weak or do we kick people when they are down? If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other and practice Ubuntu.

To quote Desmond Tutu again: “Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

A parting honk from one goose to another, we need you to succeed. You never know who you are inspiring. Bottom line is we need each other. No man is an island. As they say; it takes a team to build a dream.

Happy “flying” :-)


Copyright © NG


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