There's a fond cliche that says what goes around comes around. Essentially, the belief is an outcome of karma based philosophies in which all the wrongs we do will come back to haunt us, and all the good we do will one day reward us. Personally, I haven't seen much evidence of that, but it is a belief that gives many who have been wronged some comfort.
I do, however, strongly believe in Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a strongly African belief. More specifically, it hails from the Xhosa people, a tribe native to South Africa. Nelson Mandela is a prince of the Xhosa people.
Ubuntu says that every action we do affects those around us. If we do ill, then those around us will be affected in some way, and if we do good, then those around us will be affected by our good. This happens because we are all joined, and every person's actions and words affects others.
I want to share something from my Google Plus page from someone called Donald Pickens...
"An anthropologist proposed a game to children of an African tribe. He put a basket of fruit near a tree and told the children that the one who got there first would win all fruits. When given the signal to run, all children held hands and ran together, then they sat down together to enjoy the prize. When asked why they had run so, if one could win all the fruits, they said, UBUNTU, how one of us would be happy if everyone else is sad?"
Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if more people understood that it wasn't about themselves but how our dreams, desires, words, and actions affected others?
What a great story! The sad part is that sort of behaviour would come as a complete surprise to most Western observers. Some would stop the game and say, "No, you're not playing it right! Fight for that fruit!"
On a similar note, I read an article about a study with mice. One mouse was put in a cage. Another was left free to roam and given a bit of chocolate to munch on. Instead of eating the chocolate, it figured out a way to free its friend and then shared the chocolate. Apparently this happened enough that the researchers came to the conclusion that empathy was a natural trait. I read somewhere that even Darwin said that sympathy was the most important survival instinct (or something like that).
Of course, there are plenty of "selfish animal" stories, too, but what struck me about the article was that compassion is so rare in our culture, we think of it as a spiritual quality rather than a natural instinct - except perhaps in mothers.