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    Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

September 15, 2015

DTPF Participates in UN High Level Forum on Culture of Peace

His Excellency Mr. Sam K. Kutesa

On September 9th, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation was invited to participate in the United Nations High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace. Executive Director Brian Rusch represented the Foundation at the invitation of Ambassador Chowdhury of Bangladesh.

The event was convened this year by His Excellency, Mr. Sam K. Kutesa, President of the General Assembly. The focus of the meeting was to recognize the need for continual support to further strengthen the global movement to promote the culture of peace.

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August 8, 2015

Can Mindfulness Reduce Racism?

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City have shaken American society to its core, triggering waves of protests. Most Americans seem to feel that racism played a role in these deaths—that they never would have happened if the victims had been white.

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June 29, 2015

Emma Seppälä: 10 Science Based Reasons to Meditate to Achieve Peace Within

Every Monday, we share with you the stories from luminaries, celebrities and unsung heroes, about how we can achieve Peace Within, so that we can use that Inner Peace to have Peace Between people and Peace Among nations.

Today we wanted to share something more – the science behind WHY you should begin working on developing Peace Within. We turned to Dr. Emma Seppälä, Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism and Research at Stanford University.

“When my colleagues at Stanford and at other universities started researching meditation, most of us expected that meditation would help with stress levels,” Dr. Seppälä shares. “However, what many of us did not anticipate was the extent of the benefits the data ended up showing.”

Seppälä continues, “Hundreds of studies suggest that meditation doesn’t just decrease stress levels but that it also has tangible health benefits such as improved immunity, lower inflammation and decreased pain. Additionally, brain-imaging studies show that meditation sharpens attention and memory. Perhaps most importantly, it has been linked to increased happiness and greater compassion.”

Inspired to share her findings, Dr. Seppälä summarized her data in an article and then created this helpful infographic to help readers visualize the data and to inspire would-be or regular meditators to keep up with their practice!

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EMMA SEPPÄLÄ, Ph.D is Associate Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Her areas of research include positive organizational psychology, health psychology, cultural psychology, well-being, and resilience. She is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business ReviewPsychology Today and Scientific American Mind. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fulfillment Daily, a news site dedicated to the science of happiness. She also consults with Fortune 500 leaders and employees on building a positive organization and is the author of an upcoming book on the science of success, The Happiness Track, published by HarperOne (January 2016). In addition, she is a Research Scientist and Honorary Fellow with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.

Dr. Seppala’s research has been cited in numerous television and news outlets including ABC News and The New York Times and she is quoted in books such as Congressman Tim Ryan’sMindful Nation. Her research on mind-body interventions for military veterans returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan was highlighted in a documentary called Free the Mind by award-winning filmmaker Phie Ambo. She is the recipient of a number of research grants and service awards including the James W. Lyons Award from Stanford University, where she helped found Stanford’s first academic class on the psychology of happiness and taught many well-being programs for Stanford students.

She received a B.A in Comparative Literature from Yale University, a Master’s Degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. She completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from Paris, France, she speaks five languages: French, English, German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Outside of her experiences in the US, she has worked in France and China.

June 24, 2015

Brian Rusch appointed Executive Director of Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

NEW YORK, June 24, 2015  — The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation (DTPF) announced today the appointment of Brian Rusch as the new Executive Director of the foundation. As Executive Director, Rusch will helm Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu’s only foundation based in the United States, whose mission is to inspire young people to build a world of peace within themselves, peace between people, and peace among nations.

Brian Rusch

“We are thrilled to have Brian Rusch join us,” says DTPF president Robert V. Taylor. “His hands-on work with global peacemakers like the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, together with his remarkable skills, combine to provide him with unique insight and wisdom to work with the foundation.”

Rusch’s first initiative will be to launch Peace3, an ambitious three-year campaign to build a network of one million 17-22 year-old peace builders.

“We look forward to the implementation of Peace3 as Brian joins the team,” says Rev. Mpho Tutu, Executive Director of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. “May we magnify one another’s voices in spreading Ubuntu and creating a new generation of young peacemakers.” The philosophy of Ubuntu, or that “we are all connected and what affects one of us affects us all” guides the foundation.

Prior to working at DTPF, Rusch was the Deputy Director of The Dalai Lama Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting the development of shared global capacity for ethics and peace based on a non-dogmatic ethic of compassion, and was the COO of Project Happiness, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit dedicated to teaching social and emotional learning to young adults.

“It is an honor for me to join The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation. With recent events from Myanmar to Charleston, it is apparent that the work of the foundation is needed now, more than ever,” Rusch said. “Archbishop Tutu’s teachings and his life can serve as a template for us to shape conversations on peace, equality and forgiveness.”

Archbishop Tutu added, “I would like to offer my congratulations to the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation on hiring Brian Rusch as the new Executive Director.  May God bless you in your work.”

June 8, 2015

Desmond Tutu: “God Is Not A Christian. Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu…”

In interview originally published with Real Leaders, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and social rights activist Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says he is not threatened by the beliefs of others. He believes the world should become more aware of our shared humanity to avoid future conflicts.

You represent a very specific world view, Christianity, yet have managed to mediate between opposing belief systems and make people aware of their common humanity. How have you managed this?

It doesn’t matter where we worship or what we call God; there is only one, inter-dependent human family. We are born for goodness, to love – free of prejudice. All of us, without exception. There is greater commonality in our belief systems than we tend to credit, a golden thread expressed in the maxim that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. I don’t believe in the notion of “opposing belief systems.” It would be more accurate to say that human beings have a long history of rationalizing acts of inhumanity on the basis of their own interpretations of the will of God.

In your view, what does the world need more of in order to become more peaceful?

Our failure to recognize the humanity in others lays the foundations for selfishness rather than selflessness. It leads to gross inequity and hideous disparities in qualities of life – and, often, the degradation of environments in which relatively poor people live. A world that recognizes the equal worth and vulnerabilities of all its people will be a much more peaceful place.

Has the role of religion changed over the last 10 years?

Peoples’ interpretation of religion can change, but I don’t believe the role of religion is changeable. Religion does not just concern one’s personal relationship with God; it’s more about the manner in which we interact with others – about our broader responsibilities to the human family and the earth we share.

Figures suggest many young people are turning away from the church. Is it possible to be a good human being without being religious? 

Much as I’d love to see all the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues and temples overflowing with humanity, how good we are is not measured by the number of times we attend formal religious ceremonies. Among the most heartening trends I have noticed on my travels over the past dozen or so years has been the spiritual strength of young people. They don’t necessarily occupy the front pews on Sunday, but they seem to have been born with an enhanced sense of tolerance and a deep understanding of our inter-dependence, on each other and a functional world.

The phrase “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” has been used by various people and political groups across the world to justify their actions. How do you reconcile such opposing viewpoints in people who are all convinced they are fighting for freedom?

Many have argued that people committing acts of violence in pursuit of just objectives should be regarded as freedom fighters, not terrorists. Nelson Mandela is a leading recent example of this dual identity. He was undoubtedly a freedom fighter who, at a particular stage in the struggle against apartheid, concluded that non-violent means of struggle were failing to achieve democracy and convinced his organization to take up arms. Although the resistance army that he commanded initially targeted infrastructure, rather than people – and was ultimately of significantly greater symbolic than military value to the liberation cause – Mandela and his comrades were branded terrorists at home and abroad. I don’t believe there is ever a valid justification for violence, it only begets more violence. Where people are not free they should struggle for their freedom through non-violent means. In the 1970s and 1980s, with the help of our friends abroad, South Africans developed a non-violent toolbox of boycott, sanctions and divestment. Together with mass resistance – people swimming together in pursuit of a righteous cause are unstoppable – we brought the apartheid state to its knees.

Read the full interview

June 8, 2015

The Dalai Lama on Inner Peace, Inner Values and Mental States (VIDEO)

Nobel Peace laureate and spiritual guide to the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama, speaks on achieving Inner Peace for an audience at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009.

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His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people.

During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he denounced the Chinese Communist Party and established the nongovernmental Central Tibetan Administration. He has since traveled the world, advocating for the welfare of Tibetans, teaching Tibetan Buddhism, investigating the interface between Buddhism and science and talking about the importance of compassion as the source of a happy life.

The Dalai Lama has travelled to more than 67 countries spanning 6 continents. He has received over 150 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. He has also authored or co-authored more than 110 books.

In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.

Visit the Dalai Lama’s Official web site: www.DalaiLama.com