Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Yesterday, a few of us met with some folks from DelTec to plan our staff development day. One of the questions we were asked was to name some positive outcomes we'd like to see at the end of our time together.
We immediately began ticking off the negatives. It took some work to switch to positive thought, which, I think, said something significant about our current state of being and why we really, really need this staff development day.
I starting talking about "changing the environment" and "creating different workplace climate". One of the consultants smiled and said, "I think what you mean is, 'culture'. I think what I'm hearing you all say is that you want to begin to create a corporate culture in this particular part of this company."
Which got me thinking about the interplay between culture and customs.
In South Africa, there is this idea they call "Ubuntu." Roughly translated it means, "human kindness" but it is a philosophy which is described: "A person is not a person without another person." Or, to put it even more simply, "I am because you are."
In other words, individual identity is not shaped and formed in isolation. We are members of community and that community conspires to shape our identity.
The way that gets acted out in a cultural custom can be easily seen in the way South Africans greet each other. One says, "I see you." The other responds, "Here I am."
It's a powerful custom which acknowledges each other's existence while reinforcing the cultural ideology of Ubuntu: "I am because you are."
If we believed that - even if we couldn't imagine each other surrounded by angels, but that we are made in the image of God - how might that change the way we relate to each other?
If we believed that our most difficult patient or family member were made in the image of God, how might that affect the care we provide for them?
If we were able to believe that we, ourselves, were made in the image of God, how would that change the image we have of ourselves? The way we are in the world? The way we are with each other?
How would imagining that there are 100,000 angels surrounding each and every one of us change the corporate culture of this Hospice organization?
Ubuntu. I am because you are.
Make way! Make way! Make way for the image of God!