Robert V. Taylor: Peace Within through Ubuntu
June 1, 2015
June 1, 2015
The work of peace-making always includes being grounded in your own inner peace. At The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation we provide tools for young people to create what we call Peace3 or peace to the third power: peace within, between and among people. They’re all inter-connected and essential in creating lives of well-being. Peace and well-being within your own life is the foundation for contributing to peace between the people in your community or country and among the diverse global human family.
In 2015-16, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation is focused on the first part of the campaign, Peace Within – how cultivating one’s inner peace lays the foundation for peace in all aspects of one’s life. We will be sharing personal stories from luminaries, celebrities and unsung heroes as to how they achieve inner peace, and how it empowers them in their day to day existence.
When examining peace for myself, I often think of the transformative power of the African wisdom tradition of “Ubuntu”. Ubuntu says that a person is only a person in the context of others. In other words we need one another in order to each discover our magnificence and allow it to shine by what we do with our lives. It is a way of life that acknowledges that every person is of infinite value. It replaces fear and distrust of others with an expectancy, curiosity and celebration of them.
Living a life of Ubuntu is a way of active engagement with the world. It means that whenever the magnificence of others is confined, scorned or dismissed you intuitively join with others in actively seeking to expand our consciousness of what it means to be human.
This affirmation of the dignity of each person often involves the pursuit of justice so that the magnificence and well-being of all can be celebrated. It is ultimately a joyful way of life.
Here are three practices by which this Ubuntu way of life finds expression in creating peace within so that we can also create peace between and among peoples.
1. Be attentive to those around you. In the bustle of daily life it is common to take those around you for granted as a known quantity. You may admire, tolerate or be dismayed at people for qualities or behaviors they display. Those who dismay or anger you will drain your energy if you cede them that power. Your bandwidth for engaging with others is a limited and precious resource. The choices of whom to surround yourself with will either detract or enliven your vow.
Mindfully choose those whose lives exhibit well-being for themselves and others. Create time to be in conversation with them. Glean from them their truths and discoveries about living in peace. The magnificence of your mutual quest for living in peace will radiate beyond the borders of your own life creating a rippling effect in the world.
2. Own your cluttered conversations. The things that clutter our lives are not necessarily bad but they distract and detract us from the path to well-being. Old story lines and conversations that rattle around inside of us are a pernicious clutter because of their toxicity. You need to own their existence before you can detach and set yourself free from them.
These are the conversations that undermine you by keeping you ensnared in their hurt, pain, betrayal and fear. They undermine and detract you from knowing that living in peace is possible. Name them and detach from them by offering them to the care of the Universe. It is a toxic cleanse for your well-being. Choose instead to pay attention to the comments and conversations that express a desire for your highest good.
3. Forgive instead of paying back. When you are unable to forgive someone you harm yourself by allowing part of your life to be occupied by an egregious person. The one who harmed you through a previous act gives little thought to you or what they did. Instead it is you who choose to be a victim of the past. To forgive does not mean forgetting but it does mean not seeking payback. It is a choice to be free.
I ran into someone who had led a malicious agenda against me that disrupted my life in unexpected ways. Years ago I had chosen to forgive him and my life opened to new possibilities. But there he was professing to not know me. The unexpected encounter brought back memories of a traumatic experience. Would I allow him to reoccupy my life? I was reminded that the choice to forgive often presents itself repeatedly. Forgiving is a choice to be free.
With these practices for peace within and the desire to live a life of Ubuntu, you turn your back on settling for serial moments of peace and instead choose a way of life in which to ground your work in making the world a more hopeful and just place.
Robert V. Taylor has dedicated his life to helping individuals and organizations live beyond their limitations. He challenges leaders to live beyond the fears and self-assessments that hold them hostage. Robert is the voice of a generation empowered by the potential of living beyond the restrictions of labels. He is passionate about helping people find a deeper connection to themselves and the world at large. Author of “A New Way to Be Human,” Robert shares his own struggles and global journeys as an example of what is possible when we all live beyond labels.
As an internationally known speaker, author and media commentator, Robert is an engaging and compelling communicator of values, leadership and ethics. He is a frequent speaker for professional organizations, conferences and non-profit groups worldwide.
Robert is Chair of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation in New York, and serves on the Board of the Endowment for Equal Justice. He was Founding Chair of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County WA and an organizer of Seeds of Compassion.
He is a native of Cape Town, South Africa. Robert lives in Seattle and on a farm in rural Eastern Washington.