Last July, 17,572 singers from 129 countries formed a virtual choir to perform Eric Whitacre’s song, “Sing Gently.” What motivated them to participate in this grand-scale musical event? Could it be that, six months into the coronavirus pandemic, they were longing for connection? The pandemic has made us more keenly aware of our interdependence, of our individual limitations and needs which can be met only by others who possess gifts different from our own. The Zulu tribe of South Africa calls this human interdependence by the term ubuntu, which is often translated as “I am because we are.” Its meaning is illustrated by a story. An anthropologist told a group of African children that the child who arrived first at a certain tree would win a basket of fruit. Instead of competing for the prize, the children joined hands and ran together to the tree. When asked why they had done this, the children responded with a single word, “Ubuntu,”—I am because we are.
By Delores Dufner, OSB