Environmentalists use the word footprint to describe the impact each of has on the planet. Ideally, according to them, the smaller the footprint we leave behind us the better as it means we have used up the least possible resources and left behind the least amount of non-biodegradable trash possible.
But is living without leaving any record of your having been here really how you want to live your whole life? It's one thing not to scar the environment with your presence but it's another thing all together to have so little impact as to not even metaphorically disturb the dust of the world with your passage. To sit by idly as people suffer from the indignities of war, poverty, famine, and disease is as much a crime as if it was your hand that caused their suffering in the first place.
In North America, we surrendered our precious individual rights and freedoms with barely a whisper of protest, yet we still insist on the sanctity of the individual over the whole. But without the former the latter is just a type of selfishness that prevents us from seeing beyond our own personal fulfillment and recognizing the needs of others.
Of course selfishness is not unique to North America and people everywhere need constant reminders to look beyond the tip of their nose when looking out at the world. On his latest release on the Heads Up label, Tsimba Itsoka (translated as "No Foot, No Footprint") Oliver Mtukudzi has written a series of songs that talk about that issue and the various forms it can take.
Oliver Mtukudzi is a member of the Shona language group of tribes living within the borders of what is now Zimbabawe. Unlike her neighbour to the south, South Africa, who achieved majority rule primarily through international pressure and surrender to the inevitable by the government, Zimbabawe's path to independence came through revolution. Her current President, Robert Mugabe, was also one of the leaders of the rebel forces that forced the abdication of Ian Smith and the last minority white rule government in what was then Rhodesia.