give, gain and growLast weekend some friends of mine (Jason Strate (blog | @stratesql), Tracy McKibben (blog | @RealSQLGuy)) jumped into a lake as part of a charity fundraiser. They even gave the event a hashtag: #SQLPlunge

But that’s not why I am writing this today.

Throughout the year I will see members of the SQL Community give. They give their time. They give money. They give themselves. They just give. Our community seems to have that common thread, we are givers.

But that’s not why I am writing this today.

This morning I woke up and realized that when I have left this world I want to be remembered for how much I was able to help others. I don’t want to be remembered as the person who treated, or spoiled, himself first. The word ‘Ubuntu’ comes to mind here. It’s a concept that essentially says ‘I am because we are”.

That’s what I want to write about: Our community of data professionals. Ubuntu. I am because we are.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition in the 1999 book No Future Without Forgiveness:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

Tutu has been credited with offering additional context on Ubuntu in 2008:

Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

When people tell me how successful I have been in my life I need to stop and understand it is because of the success of others. I am not drinking from a well that I dug for myself. The well was dug for me so that I may drink.

That is why I feel the need to dig, too.

And that is why I want you to start digging.

I was sent an email recently from Lara Rubbelke (@SQLGal). In that email she mentioned the idea of “SQares”. Similar to how “Sqoop” got it’s name (“SQL” + “Hadoop”), SQares is the result of “SQL” + “Cares” = “SQares”.

We already use the #SQLFamily hashtag to describe our sense of Community. I think Lara is on to something with SQares. I’d like to see folks use the #SQares hashtag for events similar to the Polar Plunge.

I recognize that not everyone likes to go out of their way to talk about their charitable donations. That’s fine. I would ask that when you see others being charitable feel free to promote that hashtag a bit. I’d like to raise awareness for the amount of giving that we see throughout the year. And charity doesn’t mean donations or fundraisers, it can be as simple as volunteering your time at a SQL Saturday, or the PASS Summit, or even a local school helping kids learn about computers and data.

Maybe after we spend some time pointing it out then the idea of giving back to others won’t be so uncommon.

To me this is what #SQLFamily is all about. I think some folks feel it means just folks that touch SQL Server. To me it means a group of data professionals that help one another whenever possible.

I am honored to be a part of this group. I am honored to serve this group.

I am because we are.