“Go forth as a new doctor, conscious that everybody is to be revered, reverenced as created in God's image whether inner-city and rural areas go forth to demonstrate your Ubuntu, to care for them, to heal them especially those who are despised, marginalized. Go forth to make the world a better place for you can make a difference. The task is daunting of course, but it is our necessary struggle.”
handwritten address delivered at
Morehouse Medical School Commencement,
May 15, 1993.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)
I have been reading about the challenges to communities. We are all members of multiple communities. What holds us together? What breaks us apart? Who is “in” and “out”? We would like to believe that in healthcare we could articulate clear answers to these “why” questions.
In college, I was assigned the novel, L’étranger by Albert Camus. It was a difficult read with profound questions about the meaning of our lives and our disconnectedness. Camus’s stranger was profoundly separated from his community. It may well be that this character is found in all of us during our most lonely times.
The contrast to our isolation can be found in the big idea of ubuntu. It is a great idea! I even got a Christmas gift of a T shirt that clearly displays the message. This belief is found in the words of Matthew as well as Bishop Tutu.
The “why” and purpose of community is a paradox as described in Matthew. We are called, by invitation to inclusion. Hospitality is the key to and for healing communities. We have the wonderful opportunity, even as strangers, to be invited into the lives of those we serve and with that invitation; “we are”!
Michael Battle. Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me (Kindle Locations 518-520). Kindle Edition.
Block, Peter (2009-09-01). Community: The Structure of Belonging . Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Camus, A. (1971). L’étranger (Collection Folio, no. 2) (French Edition) (New edition ed.). Gallimard