“When we seek to ‘complete’ rather than ‘compete,’ it is so much easier to cheer each other on.”

Art by Megan Lindsey

The Nguni people of southern Africa have an interesting philosophy called “ubuntu.”

Ubuntu is the belief that a person thrives when his or her neighbor thrives. In English, it essentially translates to “I am because we are.” Cooperation, not competition, is celebrated.

As I was reading more about Thomas B. Marsh’s life, I thought about ubuntu.

When Thomas B. Marsh fell away from the church, he became a very vocal opponent of the Saints.
He was so bitter that he wrote an affidavit to the Missouri governor that led to the extermination order against all Mormons in Missouri. 
He stayed away from the church for 2 decades, before reuniting with the Saints in Utah. 

When in Utah, Marsh addressed the Saints concerning the reasons behind his leaving the church: 
“I became jealous of the Prophet, and then I…overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my time looking for the evil…I got mad, and I wanted everyone else to be mad.”

It’s so interesting to see what the Lord told Thomas B. Marsh when he first joined the church. (D&C 31)

He counseled Marsh to teach and strengthen others.
To “be patient in afflictions,” 
To “revile not against those that revile”
And to “govern your house in meekness, and be steadfast.”

In other words, Christ is teaching Marsh about ubuntu.
Cooperation instead of competition.
Meekness instead of envy.
Patience instead of anger.
Steadfastness instead of bitterness.
To strengthen others instead of tearing them down.

“When we seek to ‘complete’ rather than ‘compete,’ it is so much easier to cheer each other on.” (Linda K. Burton)

And do you know what is beautiful? When Thomas talks of what brought him back to the church, he states “I have sought diligently to know the spirit of Christ since I turned my face Zionward.”

Turn your face Zionward—towards others.
Strive to be of one heart and mind.
Focus on completing, not competing.
Let go of envy. 
Let go of anger.
Practice ubuntu. 

Written by Sarah Keenan


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