Francis' twin ideas of fraternity and social friendship underscore the urgency of Ubuntu in our present-day context, where the fabric of humanity is riven by atavistic conflicts, ideological division, isolationist paranoia and political polarization that take a catastrophic toll on the weak and vulnerable (18-19).
Devoid of a common uniting horizon, our ancestral fear of others drives us to build walls (26-27, 37, 41), thereby weakening our belonging to a common family and eviscerating our dream of a common purpose (30). Yet we are in this together (35); hence the imperative of building a community of solidarity and belonging.
"Mountains don't meet, but people do," says a Swahili proverb. A foundational premise of Ubuntu recognizes the centrality of encounter with the other. For Francis, fraternity rests on a culture of authentic encounters whose precondition is creative openness to the other (50).
Mutual openness, sadly, is assailed by a toxic digital communication saturated in social aggression, verbal violence and ideological myopia. The result is a virtual closed circuit connected by shared fear and hatred for the other (42-46).
As your Regional Formation Director, I hope to provide fraternities with formation ideas and material that will be useful in your local formation programs. My hope is that you will share your ideas as well so we can all benefit. Just click on the Comments Button.