Liberty is a state of mind. It can be seen as a chance for freedom, or a promise made but not kept.

We can choose to be part of something or choose to be apart.

Liberty is the offer and promise and requirement of responsibility.

A willingness to connect and to offer dignity in response to those around us.

Independence is actually about cooperation and interconnectedness.

The thing about success is that once people reach a certain level of success, they isolate ourselves. They become elitists and stop seeing those who are deemed below them as humans with dignity.

Success seduces people to believe that dignity, honour and respect should be afforded only to their new found elitist peers and anyone below that hierarchy is not worthy of being treated with dignity, honour and respect.

So they stop seeing those who are not like them as humans with dignity.

Success erodes our values of treating people with dignity.

We have set up systems that limit what we see, how we connect and insulate us from the hard work that is right in front of us.

One of the most important words I know does not have a simple English equivalent, which says a lot.

Sawubona, a Zulu word which means, “We see you.”

Sawubona: All our attention is with you. We see you and we allow ourselves to discover your needs, to see your fears, to identify your mistakes and accept them. We accept you for what you are and you are part of us.

We see you, not just your face, but your hopes, your dreams, where you came from and where you’re going. It is not something we are good at, and we need to do it better.

Figuring out the best way to see and understand and care about the people we call ‘us’ can be difficult indeed. And essential.

Treating people with humility and respect even when you are super successful is a superpower.

For more on Sawubona, here is my TEDxMahikeng talk on Sawubona:

One thought on “Sawubona – not just your face

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