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).
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