There is a City Year Founding Story called “The Shoulders of Giants”, which talks about our success being reliant upon the foundations laid by previous generations. The story references Sir Isaac Newton who said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
The Shoulders of Giants by Jason Solowczuk
This Thursday, we want to recognise and thank City Year Alumni, from South Africa to the United Kingdom to the United States, who have laid the path for the impact that we are making today. City Year has grown from strength to strength over the years, spreading it’s wings to different continents, and touching the lives of hundreds of thousands of children along the way, and none of this could have been achieved were it not for idealistic young people committed to changing the world for the better.
City Year Alumni: we salute you and thank you for your service during your corps year, and your continued service since graduating. We truly are standing on the shoulders of giants.
Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngamantu. I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours. – Zulu Proverb
The spritual foundation of South African society, Ubuntu involves a belief in a universal bond of sharing and respect that connects all of humanity. Ubuntu is a concept formally recognised by the 1996 South African Governmental White Paper on Welfare as, “The principal of caring for each other’s well-being…and a spirit of mutual support…Each individual’s humanity is ideally expressed through his or her relationship with others and theirs in turn through recognition of the individuals humanity. Ubuntu means that people are people through other people. It also acknowledges both the rights and responsibilities of every citizen in promoting individual and societal well-being.
Ubuntu Hands (Photo: Elliot Haney 2009)
Ubuntu also conveys the idea the a person cannot be complete if others do not enjoy full humanity. The spirit of Ubuntu resonates so strongly that if one group within society is denied its humanity, then no individual in that society can fully realize his or her own humanity. The urgency to change this injustice becomes paramount.
We can put the spirit of Ubuntu – respect, human dignity, compassion, and community – to work in our daily lives through our interactions with others, from greeting others as we pass them in hallways or on the street to ensuring that all segments of society are included in social welfare policies so that each person has the means to lead a life of dignity. Ubuntu has the power to help us build an inclusive, respectful, and vibrant community nation and world.
Text taken from City Year’s book of Founding Stories.
Building The Beloved Community
The Beloved Community by Christopher Barret
Among Dr. Kings most compelling visions is that of a Beloved Community – a community in which people of different backgrounds recognize that we are all interconnected and that our individual well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of others. Dr. King knew that the goal of social change is not tolerance alone, or even the recognition or enforcement of human or civil rights, or an improved economic condition. These are necessary but not sufficient steps in the path to human progress. We cannot rest until we have bridged the divides of prejudice and mistrust that lie within the human head and heart. Invariably, these final, resilient divisions are social and personal. Dr. King reminds us that reconciliation is both a process and a final destination. The road to the Beloved Community is the difficult road of reconciliation among people who have been in conflict and negotiation. The Beloved Community is reconciliation achieved – a profound human connectedness, a transcendent harmony and love among all people.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.
“Desegregation is only a partial, though, necessary, step toward the ultimate goal which we seek to realise. Desegregation will break down legal barriers, and bring men together physically. But something must happen so as to touch the hearts and souls of men that they will come together, not because the law says it, but because it is natural and right. In other words, our ultimate goal is integration which is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living. Only through nonviolence can this goal be attained, for the aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of the beloved community” MLK – 1968
“I do not think of political power as an end. Neither do I think of economic power as an end. They are ingredients in the objective that we seek in life. And I think to that end or that objective is a truly brotherly society, the creation of the beloved community” MLK – 1966
*Text taken from City Year’s book of Founding Stories
The City Year Logo is not just a random collection of shapes and letters. Each part has a very special significance and meaning. Read more about what makes up this symbol of idealism below. Click on the picture to enlarge the text.