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For the Health Of It™©, Volume 2 #14: Ubuntu, Cooperation, Competition, Selfishness and Why Transparency is Needed

Ubuntu, Cooperation, Competition, Selfishness and Why Transparency is Needed

How do we achieve intellectual honesty and integrity, while building intellectual property, innovation and giving credit where credit is due?

I own this thought, but it is tempered by the world and the thoughts of those who have gone before me, those around me and those things I have bothered to explore throughout my life.  This question is the fruit of serious consideration for many years, and the origins come from family folklore.  So, how is it that these words and thoughts belong to me?  Do they really belong to me?  Is the question mine?  How can I take anything without giving back?  I can’t, unless I am dishonest.

Ubunto recognizes this fact, but fails to address the flip side of the issue: there are crooks among the honest people … those who will take and not give back.  In other words, there are those who steal

from the community, fail to give credit where credit is due, take the idea, or ideas and the property, fruits of the ideas and, selfishly, keep it for themselves, as if they are entitled to it.

The above link is a perfect example of giving credit where credit is due.  It may be cumbersome, but it is the truth.

Then comes the spectrum of dishonesty, that is the issue of Legality vs what is proven in court, vs what is Right, Ethical, Moral, or Just.  Most people want to ignore these considerations.  Not so for Veritas Health Care (VHC).

At VHC, we operate this way:  your intellectual property is yours.  You may, or may not give us permission to use it for the benefit of others.  If you give us permission to use any of your intellectual property and it is to be used by others for profit, we expect that terms and conditions of use will be negotiated to satisfy all involved parties.  In the absence of an agreement, the property is exclusively yours and will remain so, until proven otherwise.  This is the way we operate at VHC and will continue to operate.  But consider this this the start of an open conversation on the subject, which we expect will be honed into relationships with ethical for profit corporations over time.

What is Ubuntu, anyway?

This was my introduction to Ubuntu.  One of my friends sent this compelling image, which triggered a constellation of thoughts.

Photo: UBUNTU: I am, because of you.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>"Ubuntu is a beautiful — and old — concept. At its most basic, Ubuntu can be translated as “human kindness,” but its meaning is much bigger in scope than that — it embodies the ideas of connection, community, and mutual caring for all. Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee once defined it as: 'I am what I am because of who we all are.'"</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Desmond Tutu writes: “Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, ‘Yu, u nobunto’; ‘Hey so-and-so has ubuntu.’ Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, ‘My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life.” </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Via TED Talks:<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Image with thanks to Avantgardens

It was somehow connected to the word Ubuntu and this link.

Ubuntu?  Have you heard of it?  Do you know what it means?

If not, I suggest that you click on the link above, read the blog and take a look at the associated TED talk.

I am, because of you: Further reading on Ubuntu

It is a concept as old as human kind’s wise men and akin to the thinking reflected by John Donne in 1623 “No man is an island”

and in the brilliant integrated science and art of Leonardo da Vinci before him.

and “Give credit where credit is due”.

Ubuntu brought my ongoing thoughts of Intellectual Property to the forefront.  It brings to mind many issues that have to do with humanity and our relationships with others and the environment.  Thoughts, positive and negative, about the nature of man, cooperation, cooperatives, consumption, conservation, property and intellectual property are intertwined.  Ubuntu is a beautiful concept that recognizes the integrated whole earth and the nature of the cosmos (Mother Nature) that we live in, that we owe our lives to, that we take from and give back to for ourselves and all those in our charge.  Crooks can’t operate inside Ubuntu and Ubuntu can’t work if crooks are in it.  Laws can’t prevent crookery, but transparency can …

Mother Nature does not recognize human frailty.  She sees us as just another animal and by failing to recognize and value our impact on each other and on the environment, we fail to exercise one of the fundamental differences between Humans and other animals … perhaps the only difference … the ability to anticipate and modify our environment in ways that have major impact … both positive and negative.  This capacity gives humans the opportunity to move toward more positive environmental changes and long term sustainability … to preserve the opportunities for those who may follow in our footsteps.  The failure to recognize this capacity and the impact of Human Activity on each other and the environment, puts Humans in an operational mode that is at a level way below Human Performance Capacity.  This is another way of saying that Humanity may not be able to fix every problem, but we can do much better at Love and Care of our selves and each other.

By failing to recognize what has been given to us and by failing to tread carefully on each other and each others’ territory … by failing to Love and Care about ourselves and each other, we fail to exercise one trait that perhaps distinguishes us from other animals.  Each of us, by bumbling along aimlessly thinking we operate in isolation … by doing so, we each contribute to our own demise … the demise of the Human Species.

To put it simply, if you are an adult, you are responsible for yourself and your actions.  If you take, you owe … if you have given, you are owed.  You are not isolated.  You can not take more than you give.  You can give more than you take … if you so choose, but you never have the right to take more than you deserve.  This is reciprocity.   Anything less is not sustainable in an individual, local, global, or cosmic sense.

Sustainability requires conservation and reciprocity.  It is a concept worthy of serious consideration that can work in a community that recognizes and values the integrated whole and the important things we do for each other in daily life.  But, the real world dictates that Ubuntu can not work.

Why not?




Yes … crooks.

Yes, there are those among us who would take and not give back … crooks and those “Without Conscience” among us as Robert D. Hare, PhD has duly noted during his career and his writing over the last three decades.

But human behavior is a very complex subject and predicting it in advance proves especially difficult.

So, keep your eyes open and follow the behavior.

Cooperation, Cooperatives, Reciprocity, Respect, Balance, Capitalism, Consumption, Conservation, Vision, Greed, Humanity, Ecosphere, Property, Reality: Why We Need Transparency?  Yes, crooks are the reason we need transparency.

To be continued …

Dr. Mike




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