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'Ubuntu' gives hope to society

Jim Wallis says despite grim news and broken politics, there is hope in the form of “Ubuntu”.

Christian writer and political activist Reverend Jim Wallis is currently visiting South Africa. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Reverend Jim Wallis, spiritual advisor to US President Barack Obama, says amidst grim news and broken politics, there is hope for society in the form of the common good or "Ubuntu".

Speaking to Talk Radio 702's John Robbie on Wednesday, Wallis said the new generation of South African leaders want to define social issues as moral issues, not just religious ones.

"We can make a difference by addressing the economic issues. We can come together with others who share or faith or have no faith at all but care about moral issues. That's how we are going to make difference."

The New York Times bestselling author of Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, is currently visiting South Africa and says he has found a theology of hope in South Africa from young people all over the country.

"They want the South Africa Nelson Mandela wanted."

Wallis has experienced being chased by apartheid police and witnessed the inauguration of Mandela in 1990.

Recounting his experience he said, "I witnessed a miracle in South Africa, but the mission is not yet accomplished. South Africans are unhappy and want to move from political liberation to economic liberation."

ON ADVISING OBAMA

He said his responsibility when it comes to being Obama's spiritual advisor is simply being "Obama's friend".

"This is the first president I've ever become friends with. I've been arrested in front of the White House and met with the president inside the White House. It's keeping your integrity in both places that's the trick.

He said Obama is a very good man.

"He's often the smartest person in the room. As the first black president, Obama represents the future of our country. A lot of people aren't ready for that."

Speaking on the clashes with police and protesters in Missouri he said, " Ferguson is an indictment on America. My team are on the ground there right now. We have a terrible pattern. This isn't the first young black man shot with his hands up in the air. Trayvon Martin was another."

Speaking on religion and the state, Wallis says categorically, "We never tell our president to impart religion. What we talk about are moral issues in society. Poverty, lack of education, unemployment, Iraq and Gaza are some."

He says all of us can embrace the common good whether we are religious or not.

"My notion of being a Christian is if it doesn't make a difference on the streets it makes no difference at all."