UBUNTU. I just discovered this word a week ago. My husband purchased a Linux-based computer and installed Ubuntu as the operating system. I really didn’t know what all this meant. I’m learning quickly that there is a large sub-culture of computer users who participate in a free and open source software distribution network/philosophy. Basically there’s no Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in the Linux/Ubuntu worlds. The “community” contributes to the development of new software and it is made available to everyone for free. It’s amazing really.
Because I’m not really a computer person, I was more interested in the word Ubuntu. It didn’t sound like an English word and I thought it probably meant something cool, unlike the word Xerox. Xerox is a made up word, a name of a corporation and now a word on the verge of becoming a generic verb meaning “to photocopy.” Ubuntu sounded much more meaningful. So, I googled it, and here’s what I found:
“A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”
Wow. What a lovely, benevolent concept.Then I thought, if we (as a society/culture/universe) all embodied ubuntu, practiced ubuntu, then would we have diversity issues, oppression, disparities, and a whole host of other “-isms?” It seems to me in western culture there’s a lot of emphasis on competition, on honing your skills to compete in the global workforce or on college entrance essays, etc. The focus is on us making ourselves better than someone else in order to get the job, whatever the job may be. But, what if we all had a place in the world to be ‘our best selves,’ and that it didn’t mean in order for someone to win another had to lose.
Then, I thought, is such a thing possible if the word isn’t part of the dominant culture? I know of ubuntu now, but its not a American concept, or a word that many people know. But then I caught a glimpse of hope when I read, “Ubuntu is the world’s favorite free operating system, with over 20 million people preferring it over commercial alternatives.” So, maybe those 20 million people will tell 20 million more people and so on until one day the scales tip and ubuntu is so well known it becomes a generic verb in a society overflowing with equality.