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September 2013

The “How To” guide to Ubuntu

Sometimes I write because I’m annoyed. Sometimes I’m happy. Sometimes I’m outraged. Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m just trying to make a point. But sometimes just because I can and because something needs to be said…

Every day brings new things. Some good, some bad. The mundane, funny, important, boring, exciting, the unbelievable. The whole catastrophe of human endeavour sometimes – the lunacy, the violence, the goodness, the just plain hogwash, the dreams, hopes and fears of mankind’s egotism - all wrapped up in one great big on-going explosion of information, images and sensory input. If you’re anything like me, there are times when it can all become just a bit too much – can’t it? Too sad. Too bonkers. Too unbelievable. Too mind boggling…just TOO MUCH. I retreat into myself. Do you? It’s easy to do, isn’t it?

Become an island? Just for a while? Try not to let everything overwhelm us. Shut down in some ways. Let it all flow over us whilst we worry about our own little lives and our own little doings. Our own problems. We’re also important, aren’t we? Yes, of course we are – and therein lies the road to purgatory…

We forget. We lose the plot. We get too wrapped up in ourselves and what WE’RE doing and what WE want and where WE’RE going. We lose sight of the big picture. We become materialistic, shallow, superficial, arrogant, insensitive, self-important, self-pitying and much more besides. What is important is cast aside – only to be replaced by trivial, superfluous window dressing. Too strong? Think again. I can be that way (there are rude ways to describe the condition) – YOU can be that way too. We all can. We care more about our cars than we care about people around us. Our children included. We care more about our jobs – our positions and our prestige – than we care about our families and our relationships with those who love us. Some of us happily pay thousands for the latest frou-frou sunglasses while conveniently looking the other way and pretending we don’t see the skinny child beggar standing in the rain next to our shiny car at the traffic lights. Others rage at car guards working for a pittance and a shred of our meagre store of human kindness. (yes, I too CAN DRIVE, YOU KNOW!) It’s time to change. Now. Not tomorrow. Now. Behaving like a real person takes time and practice. After all, lots of us have to first overcome years of conditioning and habit. I’m still working on it and have been for years. It still feels like I just started. You think I’m preaching? You think I’m a saint? You think I’m perfect? I’m not. Far from it. Very. I’m just another flawed, fallible human being with all the baggage that comes with it. But I’m trying. Trying to behave like a real person. And, all too often, I fail. It takes conscious effort to notice what goes on around each one of us every day. To think, to look beyond. To not pre-judge, not assume, not be too suspicious, too gullible, too trusting or too guarded and to take a little time to think.

In most situations, most of us already know what the right thing to do is. We know. Those who continually deny knowledge are part of the problem. The rest of us know. We just know. Some of us do the right thing even though it’s difficult. We do not make excuses and fool ourselves that we are behaving correctly when we know that we are actually doing the polar opposite. Deep down inside, we all know the difference between right and wrong. Following that knowledge or not is what sets real people apart from the rest. They’re not special, not elite. They just know what’s right and go with it. It’s that simple. Geddit? We even have our own international icon to show us how it’s done. Madiba is a shining example to us all.

Try to be a real person. Do something nice for somebody. Do something decent. Act ethically. Be more tolerant. Be honest. Forgive somebody. Smile more – especially at silly things. Say “thank you” more. Plan to become a real person. For no reward. Practice. Try. And, most importantly, don’t tell anyone about it. Just do it. Don’t do something and then rush off to Facebook to polish your marble to the world and bray about how wonderful you are. Don’t go to church and feel smug and superior. Instead, cherish the small, warm glow in your heart. Then go do it again. And again. Be all you can be. Become a real person – it will consume you. And you too will begin to understand the spirit of Ubuntu.

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