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    Striving for Ubuntu

    October 6, 2015

October 6, 2015

Striving for Ubuntu

“Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, ‘Yu, u nobunto’; ‘Hey so-and-so has ubuntu.’ Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, ‘My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life.” – Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness.

These words of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu describe an ideal for life in community. When we provide a safe space for one another, when we encourage one another, when we find space to collaborate – we create community, better yet – Ubuntu. We believe that a central place in striving for Ubuntu is the development and care for peace.

In 2000, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu started the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation with a group of his friends in the U.S. and South Africa, to use his life and teachings to provide inspiration and education to young people to create peace within themselves, peace between people, and ultimately, peace among nations. As one of only three Foundations that operates with the direct guidance of the Archbishop, and the only one in the Western Hemisphere, the overarching goal of Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation is to reach and teach one million young people aged 17-22 the practices and skills of Peace3 – Peace within oneself, Peace between people and Peace among nations.

Young people have always been at the forefront of peace movements – consider their role in ending the Viet Nam war or dismantling apartheid. The young people of today are the best hope we have for transforming cultures of war and violence into cultures of peace and prosperity. By providing people, ages 17-21, with interactive and stimulating opportunities to learn about and embrace moral and ethical practices they are more likely to engage in and foster the principles of non-violence, equality, compassion and integrity in their societies.

At the Desmund Tutu Peace Foundation we seek to engage a community for good, for healing. The Peace3 program, enables young people to be powerful, transformative agents of peace who contribute to their own wellbeing and that of others by working toward the cessation of the culture of violence that harms vulnerable individuals and groups. We want to equip them with the tools of community.

The Peace3 program itself is made up of a series of live and online experiences. This summer, we launched with a series of interviews featuring luminaries from a variety of backgrounds, all with one common thread – they have a practice for achieving inner peace and they use that peace within to make a difference in the world. To date, we have been so fortunate to count peace activist Scilla Elworthy, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra, Nightline and Good Morning America anchor Dan Harris, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama as just a few people who have participated in this project.

It is our intention to make our programs accessible throughout a variety of communities as we engender peace. In November, we are launching our first in a series of “Conversations on Peace”. These are live events held in partnership with colleges and universities that will focus on a topic related to peace, and involve experts in that area to speak with the students to increase the understanding. The first three conversations are taking place at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. The first will feature feminist and civil rights advocate, Nyaniso Tutu-Burris, the Archbishop’s granddaughter. She will speak to the topic of race as it relates to peace. She will be joined by student leaders from each campus as well as local experts in the community. Thanks in great part to our technology partners, we will be able to broadcast a live stream of each of these events via our site, the site of the college/university, as well as through our YouTube channel. In an effort to increase our reach, we will be hosting Twitter Town Halls in conjunction with each of these events so that we can involve people across the country and even the globe, who might want to join the discussion.

Peace does not happen without action though, as such, one of our primary goals is to really inspire young people to action. In conjunction with our campus partners, we are creating ways for young people to go out and work to create peace in their communities, and to share their knowledge with others. The goal is to make this scalable and our first campus partners were selected both for having exceptionally motivated student bodies, as well as their being so diverse from each other. Our feeling is this will help us to create programs that will scale no matter the campus type.

Throughout our exciting Peace3 program, we have maintained that philosophy of ubuntu – I am, because we are. This is most evident in that we are working closely with luminaries, many whom also have their own peace organizations; with the other two organizations founded by Archbishop Tutu; with our many campus partners. Through our success, is their success and through their success is ours. So often, organizations can get caught up focused on their own missions that they feel threatened by the success of others.

In embarking on the mission of bringing good to our communities, it is important for us to recognize that we are not alone in our journey. At the DTPF, we recognize the journey to peace happens only by engaging others to join us in the walk. What does this look like in your organization? How can your mission be strengthened by joining together with others? How can collective success be found in your community as you work together with other partners for good? Where do you pursue Ubuntu?

As the Archbishop reminds us: “We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family.”

Article originally posted in the September issue of Nonprofit Performance Magazine


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