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March 19, 2013

To Young Leaders of Tomorrow—You Will See Global Peace in your Lifetime if You Start Today

ubuntu logoThroughout the course of my research, I have found several things about Desmond Tutu’s philosophy to be relevant for my peer group of young people in their late teens and early twenties in 2013. At a young age Desmond Tutu discovered the term and philosophy of Ubuntu, which essentially describes the relations we have with each other. Desmond Tutu applied this philosophy to his work later in life when he had to choose between revenge or restorative justice when he was affiliated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the issue of apartheid in South Africa. Desmond Tutu saw revenge as the “natural reaction,” but knew from his experience with conflict resolution at that time, and from the philosophy of Ubuntu that very simply, two wrongs do not make a right, and it is better to act more morally and with justice than it is to just take revenge.

Everything that Desmond Tutu has expressed in his life as an activist for global peace is relevant to young people today. Even though it seems that our world is filled with people just resorting to violence every day without any logic, there are still many good people striving to make the world a better place for all.  At times it seems that violent reactions happen for the sole purpose of making perpetrators look superior in some way within peer groups or certain communities. Violence may also be chosen as the easy way out for some because they have not learned how to express their thoughts and emotions in a civilized manner.

handshakeMany people around the world have become accustomed to “immediate gratification.”  Negotiation, whether within the family, between friends, among citizens in a given community or among nations, takes time and patience.  At the top level of government that effort is called diplomacy, and fewer and fewer officials in governments around the world seem to choose sticking with the path of diplomacy, opting instead for the “instant violent conflict” solution.  It is for that very reason that all people must learn how to resolve conflict within themselves and among others in a non-violent way.

desmond tutu - truth and reconciliation commissionIn a time like this, it is best to reflect on Desmond Tutu’s philosophy to not only strengthen the relationships we have with each other, but make this world a better place to live in by valuing human life above all else. These recent outbreaks of violence we hear about every day on the News are appalling, and they call out to all of us to apply the wisdom and philosophy which aided Desmond Tutu to succeed in his role within the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.

We see much too much of the violent ways conflicts are handled, but we almost never see the stories about successful acts of nonviolent conflict resolution led by prominent figures as well as their many followers who apply nonviolence to their everyday lives. There is no sense of balance in the messages we receive about how people handle conflict.  Sure, we learn about great nonviolent leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu in textbooks, but we seldom ever really learn how to apply those acts and beliefs in our own daily lives.

helping each otherDesmond Tutu did what only a few others would have done which solidified his acts of peace. There are good people in this world and everything they do is pertinent to what prominent figures have done as well, and we should hear more about the efforts of those people. Let us seek out Desmond Tutu’s philosophy of Ubuntu which will ensure that we become champions of nonviolent conflict resolution. What Desmond Tutu has set forth to do—to make global peace a reality—is based on the idea of learning from birth from the family into which we are born and raised to see others as we see ourselves, which subsequently leads to more right than wrong.

Editor’s Note:  Go to the inspirational site of Combatants for Peace http://cfpeace.org/?page_id=2, a coalition of former Israeli and Palestinian enemies who used violent methods to attack each other over years but came to the conclusion that nonviolent methods of conflict resolution would be more powerful in getting to an understanding of each other and peaceful coexistence.  This organization is proof positive that the goal of global peace is, indeed, attainable.  They exemplify Ubuntu.

March 7, 2013

Rotary – Recruiting the Next Generation of Peacemakers

The Rotary Peace Fellowship offers full funding for a master’s degree or professional certificate in peace study at one of six Rotary Peace Centers around the world.

“Rotary believes, as I believe, that it is possible to have a world without war,” said Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. “By educating future peace-builders and working to ease the conditions that breed violence and conflict, Rotary is demonstrating to the rest of the world that peace is attainable.”

Rotary – Voices for Peace

Voices For Peace from Rotary International on Vimeo.

Since 2002, Rotary has sponsored 50 fellows every year, each of whom embark on one to two years of master’s-level study at leading Rotary Peace Centers around the world including:

  • Uppsala University, Sweden
  • University of Bradford, UK
  • University of Queensland, Australia
  • International Christian University, Japan
  • Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Additionally, in 2004 Rotary added the Professional Development Certificate program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.  Each year, the Rotary Peace Center in Thailand trains up to 50 mid-level professionals from peace-related fields such as public health, education, international law, economic development, journalism, and social justice.

Now Accepting Applications

Applications for the 2014-15 class are due by 1 July 2013.  In order to apply applicants must contact their local Rotary club or district to gain endorsement.  Use the Club Locator to find your nearest club.

“When I talk about peace, I tell people that you must do more than simply ‘care’ about peace — you have to take action to achieve it,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, who won her prize in 1997 for helping ban antipersonnel landmines. “That’s what I admire about Rotary members—they lead by example, both at the community level and through their support of the Rotary Peace Centers.”

Rotary Peace Center alumna Izabela da Costa Pereira, now a director and project analyst for the United Nations Development Program, says the need for trained peace-makers has never been greater.  “With the plethora of conflicts in so many regions, more specialists are needed, particularly coming from conflict zones,” she said.  “One of Rotary’s greatest contributions is the promotion of peace through specialized education.”

Other Rotary Peace Center alumni of note:

Brigitta von Messling, Germany, earned her master’s degree at the Rotary Peace Center at the University of Bradford in 2006. She is the senior advisor for training and organizational development for the Center for International Peace Operations in Berlin, Germany.

Robert Opira, Uganda, earned his master’s degree at Rotary Peace Center at University of Queensland in 2007. Robert is a peace and conflict consultant providing technical support to humanitarian agencies helping internally displaced persons in Northern Uganda. He is also the director of the Great Lakes Center for Conflict Resolution in Uganda.

Rajaa Natour, Israel, earned her master’s degree at Rotary Peace Center at University of Bradford in 2011. Today she is a program manager of the Gemini Project in Jafaa, Israel. The project promotes constructive dialogue between groups of Jewish and Palestinian students across ten campuses and cities.

Jason Hutson, Japan, earned his master’s degree at Rotary Peace Center at International Christian University in 2009. He is the founder and CEO for What Sport Creative, a Tokyo-based organization that uses sports as a catalyst for youth development and cultural exchange.

Cameron Chisholm, USA, earned his master’s degree at the Rotary Peace Center at University of Bradford in 2008. He is the president of the International Peace & Security Institute and teaches peace studies courses at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service.