News & Updates
non-violent conflict resolution
March 19, 2013
Throughout 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.
Many 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.
In 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.
Desmond 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.