A savvy elderly global citizen surprised me when she said, "This is not the time to talk about peace; even old peace activists like me are rooting for the defeat of ISIS." I strongly disagree with her. This is exactly the time to be talking about peace. Desmond Tutu's 83rd birthday on October 7 is an invitation to recommit ourselves to making whatever peace we can, wherever we can and whenever possible.
This spirit is alive in one of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation's local community partners in the New York City area, Hip Hop Saves Lives which works with young people to reclaim the original intent of Hip Hop as a vehicle for peace making and reconciliation. Their specially created birthday video celebrates Tutu's life and Ubuntu. It is a testimony to why many young people in this time of small and great conflicts believe this is the time for small and great peace making.
The notion that there is a "right time" for peace is flawed. Whether in our own personal lives, in the community in which we live or among the human family -- conflict exists. It is part of the human reality. Those who care about peace naturally want to engage in easing or ending conflict. But to think of peace only as the absence of conflict is to denigrate peace making.
Peace is about working for the well-being of all -- the physical, financial, spiritual and psychological well-being of every person. Many of us would add the well-being of all sentient beings. In the African wisdom tradition Ubuntu is a philosophy that says "I am, because you are." In other words, we need one another in all of our individual radiance. The radiance of each person and their unique gifts become possible when we each do whatever we can to improve the well-being of people we know or may never know in person.
Ubuntu and peace making that seeks the well-being of others is what fires the spirit of Desmond Tutu. He is widely known for his leading role in ending apartheid in South Africa and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that followed apartheid's peaceful demise. As Tutu ages he has a laser focus on the importance of women's leadership, girl's education, LGBT rights and the environment. His thirst for justice is so passionate because in denying human rights and opportunities to any person or group a injustice is committed.
This is why his U.S. Foundation is launching Peace3 or Peace to the Third Power to teach one million 17-22 year olds the transformative power and practices of creating peace within their own lives, peace between people in local communities and peace among the human family. While Peace3 uses Tutu's wisdom and work, along with that of other peacemakers, Peace3 is not about Tutu. It is about celebrating and equipping young people to be agents of well-being and peace.
In the midst of many local, national and global conflicts, including the war on ISIS, this is the time to reaffirm that the peacemakers of the world are essential to the well-being of the human family. Join the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation in being proactive in supporting the young peacemakers and change agents of the world.
To postpone peacemaking cedes power to the warmongers and perpetrators of injustice and violence. To celebrate and equip young people for the work of creating peace within, between and among people is a proactive affirmation of human life. I am because you are.