News & Updates
Robert V. Taylor
October 6, 2015
November 2nd and 3rd, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation will be joining the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College for the launch of “Conversations on Peace”, a live interactive event taking place in partnership with Valencia College in Orlando, Florida.
June 24, 2015
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.
“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 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.
October 7, 2013
Note: This article was originally posted on the Ann Curry Reporting Our World page of NBC News.
Desmond Tutu celebrates his 82nd birthday on October 7th. I’m often asked what I’ve learned from this tireless peacemaker over three decades of knowing him. Alongside the wisdom that his life, work, teaching and spirit exude, five life lessons stand out which are transformative to the life of any person when they are allowed to be in dynamic inter-action.
Undergirding everything I’ve learned is Tutu’s witness to the philosophy of Ubuntu. It is an African wisdom tradition which says that a person is only a person in the context of others. Or to put it another way “I am only me because of you.” Everything that he says and does is a reflection of this fundamental belief in our need of one another combined with the teachings of his faith tradition about love, forgiveness and justice.
Trust. Tutu speaks often about his belief that we are made for goodness, in fact he’s even written a book about that. The belief is lived out through a striking willingness to trust others and a sense that when given the chance most people will ultimately make decisions that are good. It is a fundamental trust in the goodness of others.
Fifteen years ago I asked Tutu what made him offer to help me get out of South Africa in 1980—when he barely knew me—to avoid imprisonment for refusing to serve in the military. He thought for a moment then said, “I trusted you and wanted to help.” This combination of trust in the goodness of others and the willingness to act on that guiding belief create a dynamic, interactive way of life.
Playful Delight. Like his dear friend the Dalai Lama, Tutu has lived with the threat of violence against him and witnessed some of the most wrenching atrocities in the world. At a breakfast conversation I once hosted at which these two men spoke about compassion the audience was mesmerized as they teased and poked one another in the ribs while on stage and then collapsed into peals of laughter.
In the midst of responding to the needs of the world Tutu is grounded in a playful mischievous delight about life that begins with making fun of himself. It is a choice to walk lightly through the world while being fully present to life and others.
Honoring Your Word. In a world of often glib promises I’ve repeatedly witnessed Tutu honoring the commitments he speaks about. In the late nineteen eighties at the height of the anti-apartheid movement I asked him when he might speak in support of LGBT rights. “Once apartheid is overturned” he said without missing a beat. Today he calls the struggle for those rights the moral equivalent of ending apartheid.
There is a theme to how he honors his word. The magnificence and belovedness of every person are, I believe, what drive his insistent words about the need for girl’s education, women’s leadership, the Girl’s Not Brides campaign, the environment and LGBT rights. It is about living an integrated life that honors one another and especially those who are denied equality.
Steadfast Loyalty. The varied expressions of loyalty that I and so many others have experienced and received from Tutu is a reminder of the steadfastness of his friendship with others irrespective of their successes or failures. I’ve come to understand that this gift is only possible because of his profound self-awareness of human foibles and frailty and his heartfelt empathy with others.
Overjoyed by his willingness to write a generous introduction to my recent book, I was completely unprepared for his enthusiasm about travelling to Los Angeles to participate in a book launch event for the same book. It is a reflection of a steadfast loyalty that is another reminder of the Ubuntu wisdom tradition at work.
Grounding Practice. Tutu has engaged many and offended some by declaring that “God is not a Christian.” He understands his God to be more loving, expansive and generous than the wisdom of any one tradition points to. Yet it is his daily practice of celebrating Holy Communion every morning wherever he is that grounds his life and informs it.
I’ve learned that no matter your tradition the ability to engage in a regular practice of meditative or prayerful mindfulness each day is foundational to being an aware participant in your own life and the human family. The particulars of what kind of practice you choose are less important than the practice itself.
While I’m profoundly grateful for all that I have learned from Tutu over the decades I am not unique in learning such life lessons from him. These five things are accessible to anyone wanting to live an integrated mindful life in the spirit of Ubuntu. Above all, they reflect Tutu’s generosity of heart, mind and spirit. It is a generous way of living that beckons any of us.
June 11, 2012
We don’t often stop to think about how the way we choose to manifest our unique humanity impacts ourselves and the world around us. We are not conscious of the limitations we place on ourselves by old ways of being. Yet we live in a world that needs our courage, creativity and imagination.
In his best selling book, A New Way to Be Human, nationally recognized speaker and author Robert V. Taylor explores the question of how we can each leave a footprint of compassion in the world by tapping into our personal spirituality and innate values. We had the opportunity to talk with him recently about his ideas for more fully realizing our human potential.
DTPF: What motivated you to write A New Way to Be Human?
RT: To invite readers to be happy and change the world. The sense of helplessness and disengagement that so many people feel about the world – “My voice doesn’t matter; my actions don’t really count” – leads you to clutch at life. There is another way! To live into the fullness of being human; to discover your magnificence and the truth that the world needs your active engagement as much as you do. The book invites readers into a more fulsome, happy and engaged new way to be human.
DTPF: You speak in your book about connecting with stories – our own and those of others. How do we know which stories are the most important to share?
RT: Listen for the ones that make you feel alive, along with those that scare you. Pay attention! When you know your story and can be compassionate about every part of it – the wonder, regret, shame and joy – you tell it knowing that eternal wisdom and truth is revealed through your story. You then find yourself listening compassionately to the stories of others, attentive to the eternal truths and wisdom being revealed. Not every story is safe to share with just anyone but you will know that intuitively. Sharing your story you discover common ground with the most unexpected people. As you share who you are – not just what you do – your stories remind you that we need one another in order to be human. It’s a life-changing way of living each day and claiming your voice in the world.
DTPF: One of the ideas you discuss in A New Way to Be Human is the limitations – enclosures – that we allow ourselves and others to place around us. What is the best way to recognize the enclosures we experience in our lives so that we can address them?
RT: Become aware of the things that you resist doing or think you’re not good enough or loved enough for. Beware of choices that are driven not by your passion and desire but by the needs of others or the habit of pleasing them. Each of those things constrains you, holding you back from your magnificence. They squelch your voice and cramp your compassion. You serve no one’s good by hiding behind whatever encloses you from being fully alive, happy and engaged. The book offers practical tools for stepping beyond what encloses you from your fullest self.
Robert V. Taylor – Repairing the World
DTPF: You talk in your book about reflecting the imagination of the Holy and “polishing the world?” What exactly to you mean by that?
RT: Our greatest failures come from a lack of imagination. When you chose to embrace your imagination life is different. Instead of looking at the world and accepting it the way it is you imagine the way it can be. That’s engaging and enlivening! Every seemingly small action that you do to make something better in the lives of others, in your community, school or in world helps to change and polish the world. What you do matters! Your actions allow the humanity of others to flourish. Lives and communities have a new shine to them!
DTPF: One memorable story in your book has to do with your friend Joe who had stopped following the news because it ultimately made him feel helpless. This is something that many people experience today. Can you tell us how Joe was able to turn that deeply felt negativity around in his life?
RT: Joe heard the challenge of a good friend to stop being disengaged and to see in the news an invitation to be part of changing the story line from bad to good news! Of course there are lots of terrible things in the world. But when we sit back we give them power. We are hard wired for love and compassion and we know it when discover life-giving energy by choosing to do something. As Joe responded to his friend’s challenge he found that he was drawn to stories about girls and young women denied education in many parts of the world. The bad news of those stories led him to learn about people and organizations doing something to give women access to education. It is probably one of the most transformative changes imaginable for the human family. So Joe got involved in an organization working in partnership with local organizations to provide that access. It’s changed his life. He’s no longer a helpless victim of life. He’s become an active participant in change and says he’s more fully alive because of it.
DTPF: Many of us grow up being told that to think of others is virtuous, but that thinking of one’s self is not. How can your book help us better understand the difference between looking inward with love to learn who we are versus just being egotistical?
RT: Loving yourself is the greatest lesson and gift you will ever receive! You develop tenderness for yourself – warts and all. When you love yourself without conditions you want your own well-being. That’s where you discover happiness and how to be happy. With each step you take you become more compassionate about yourself. But none of this is a personal treasure to hoard. You discover that other people are loveable too – with all of their quirks. You can’t help but yearn for their well-being too. You desire happiness for all people. Loving yourself is the exact opposite of being egotistical! It makes you more fully human and alive because you realize that we need one another, that we’re inter-connected. Self-love becomes a generous outpouring of love for others.
DTPF: You share a great quote in your book related to “limitless imagination.” You shared the story of a woman, Zelda who, because of the demands of her corporate career, was denying the “invitation to let go of the pause button” on her imagination. How can each of us learn to let go of the pause button on our own imagination?
RT: Listen to the tweets that your passions send you! There may be just one thing that you’re passionate about, that makes you feel alive. Pay attention – it’s the Universe inviting you to live life fully with whatever your gift is. That’s where you discover limitless imagination. When you choose to not listen to your passions and imagination you hit the pause button on your life. Imagine if any of your heroes had paused their imagination – the environmental, civil rights, gender equality, LGBT and other movements exist because of imagination that is alive and engaged! The world needs your imagination at work every day as much as you do – it’s how change happens.
DTPF: How would you describe being “at home in your heart” to a group of young people today?
RT: Listen to your heart! Science reminds us that our heart and brain are connected and when we only live in our head space we miss out on our heart pointing us to happiness, purpose and meaning. Celebrate the people and places who make your heart space alive and detach from the toxic people whose energy limits your ability to be at home in your heart. Allow your heart to feed your intuitive response to the people, places and causes that make you at home by filling you with life-giving energy.
DTPF: What is the most important idea your book can offer a young person who wants to better their lives and those around them?
RT: Love yourself and share that love! Be kind to someone today, speak out on something you care about, take an action to make the world a more just place. Love – it’s in your DNA. Love like it’s the best day of your life.