Learning to Be: The Bridge Between Self and Society!

Part 3 of Learning

In the intricate dance of human interaction, Learning to Be is the bridge that links individuality (self) to collectivity (society), weaving the intricate fabric of society. At Rudder4Life, we recognise Learning to Be as a fundamental pillar of personal and societal growth, empowering young adults to overcome the complexities of human interaction with emotional and social intelligence.

Learning to Be is the process through which individuals learn and internalise the norms, values, and behaviours of their society and also known as socialisation. It consists of numerous interactions and experiences that mould one’s identity and role within the broader community. It is the process where individuals overcome the delicate balance between their unique identities and their interconnectedness with society. Moreover, it is a process of self-discovery clashing with the building of harmonious relationships within society. Much like a river carving its course through the landscape, socialisation/learning to be shapes individuals into active contributors to the collective being of humanity.

Learning to be is crucial because it lays the foundation for cohesive communities and thriving societies. When a society lacks shared values, i.e., there is scarcity in the values dimension, it can lead to negative impacts on their ethical and cultural beliefs. For instance, a community that lacks shared values can lead to a crisis of identity and purpose, resulting in a lack of cohesion. This can cause individuals to feel insecure as they try to make sense of shifting societal norms without a stable moral compass. A recent example is the July 2021 riots and upheaval in South Africa, which highlights the negative impact of a lack of shared values. Another everyday example of this scarcity can be seen in a school where learners and educators have differing values and beliefs, leading to conflicts and misunderstandings that result in a loss of cultural cohesion. Such a breakdown in communication and teamwork can ultimately impact the overall success of the school. As the famous American writer and educator Booker T. Washington once said, “The happiest people are those who do the most for others.” By instilling shared values and promoting a sense of belonging, individuals learn to appreciate diversity and develop a sense of empathy, cooperation, and mutual respect. These values are essential for building cohesive communities where people can live and work together harmoniously, regardless of their cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds. In South Africa’s diverse mosaic, socialisation/learning to be produces unity by bridging divides and promoting inclusivity across cultural, racial, and socioeconomic lines.

Learning to navigate the complexities of human interaction can be challenging for anyone. That’s where Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Social Intelligence (SQ) come in handy. They act as a compass guiding us towards becoming better at understanding and connecting with others, much like a skilled sailor navigating the turbulent seas. EQ helps us recognise, understand, and manage our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. By developing self-awareness and empathy, we can build meaningful relationships, promote trust, and collaborate effectively towards common goals. SQ, on the other hand, expands beyond individual interactions to involve broader social contexts. It allows us to overcome social dynamics, communicate effectively, and bridge cultural divides, creating inclusive spaces where every voice is heard and valued.

As Helen Keller famously said, “We can do so little alone, but together, we can achieve so much.” In tomorrow’s South Africa, inclusive leadership is not merely a goal; it is a necessity. It’s essential to have inclusive leaders who can build bridges between individuals and society. By teaching young adults emotional and social intelligence, we can empower them to create positive change in their communities and beyond. Let’s work together to encourage a new generation of leaders who embrace diversity, equity, and sustainability for everyone. Maya Angelou once said, “People may forget what you said or did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” So, let’s ensure we design a brighter tomorrow for all in South Africa, where inclusivity, compassion, and equity thrive.

At Rudder4Life, we believe Learning to Be is the bridge that connects us to society, and it’s the foundation of a more vibrant, resilient, and inclusive community. Through empathy, meaningful relationships, and collective action, we can create a more compassionate and resilient world. Let’s take this journey together with open hearts and minds as we strive to make a brighter future for generations to come where every voice is heard, every heart is valued, and every dream is within reach.

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