Following from our previous post on the Politics of Convergence – Part 1, at the level of intent, all human beings are the same because the problem of intent is wired into the essence of being human.
Maturation – The Human Being Becoming
Being human is not a static thing, it is a moving thing. In a sense, to be human is to be part of an ongoing process of maturation. This process of maturation is pinned between two points, namely birth and death. Both birth and death have an unconditional character.
At birth, the totality of an infant’s potential lies before it. It is therefore here to get in the fullest, most unconditional sense of the word. It is equally true that at the moment of death one loses it all unconditionally. We arrive getting it all and we leave giving it all.
The process of maturation that transmutes our lives implies a movement from one extreme of unconditional getting to the other of unconditional giving.
The difference between giving it all and having it all taken away lies in the intent of the one who is doing the giving. For example, assume that I have R100 stolen from me and my wife gives a neighbour in distress R100. There is clearly a huge difference in terms of how we experience what happened. I will be of the view that I was taken from and she will be of the view that she gave. That difference does not sit in the R100, it sits in the intent of the person going through the experience. I was taken from because I did not intend to give.
The process of maturation in the direction of unconditional giving is, therefore, a process of maturation of the will or of intention. All human beings are born, and they die, irrespective of their cultural heritage. We are all here to face the same exam of irrevocable loss. To succeed at being human and to rediscover ubuntu means to cultivate the capacity to give unconditionally.
Benevolent and Malevolent Intent and Convergence
The above suggests that intent can pattern in one of two ways. Benevolent intent is concerned with the self being there to serve the other. Malevolent intent is concerned with getting the other to serve the self. Both maturity and ubuntu are concerned with action with benevolent intent.
When one acts selfishly with malevolent intent, the other resists the self and the relationship over time becomes conflict-ridden. This suggests that people who behave based on malevolent intent will diverge. Their society becomes increasing unstable and fractured over time. When one acts based on benevolent intent the self earns trust from others and harmony is cultivated over time. A society populated by people of benevolent intent will therefore practice convergence and be harmonious. They are acting for reasons that are bigger than their own self-interest.
Benevolent Intent and Empowerment
Intention defines interest and therefore attention. A person demonstrates their maturity by what they pay attention to in the world. If you pay attention to what you want to get from the other, the other’s ability to withhold what you want makes you subject to manipulation. They are strong and you are weak. The other has power over the self. The self can only react to the agenda set by the other. The self becomes the slave and the other is the master.
When the self pays attention to what it should be giving to the other, the other no longer has power over the self. The self escapes from underneath the control of the other in the situation. The self transcends the situation, grows and becomes powerful. The degree to which a person’s motive is conditioned by their expectation is the degree to which they are defined by the outcome of events. The more unconditional a person is regarding what they are contributing the more they will define the outcome of events.
The empowerment of the self coincides with the shift of attention of the self from taking to giving, from expectation to contribution. Empowering people means to focus their attention on the contribution they can make. Disabling and enslaving people means to keep them occupied with their expectations.
Consistent with the distinction between expectation and contribution is the distinction between needs and values. An immature person will pay attention to their own needs in any given situation whereas a mature person would be more concerned with doing the right thing in the situation. A mature person acts consistently with the value that is operative in that situation.