From the first time him speak, I have had the deepest respect for Desmond Mpilo Tutu. Far, far more than merely being an Archbishop of the Anglican church; Tutu is a humanist, a lover of peace, a man unafraid to speak out against injustice no matter the audience – witness his statement “I am ashamed to be an Anglican” after narrow-minded Anglicans rejected homosexual practice as being incompatible with nature.
The power of pacifism
Over the last 100 years a triumvirate of distinguished South African pacifists stand out – look no further than Mohandas Ghandi, Albert Lutuli and Desmond Tutu. “People who call pacifists weak, that’s not the case. Actually you go into confrontation. You confront violent people without weapons.” says Tutu. Like Lutuli, Tutu was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (amazingly, Ghandi never won the Nobel Peace Prize, but that is a story for another day), and nobody put it better than Egil Arvik when presenting the Nobel prize to him “we feel ourselves united with him in the belief in the creative power of love.”
The message of truth, love and justice
An orator of note, nobody says it better than Tutu himself:
- On Ronald Reagan’s resistance to sanctions: “Your president is the pits as far as blacks are concerned.”
- On who gets into heaven: “We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.”
- On those who chose neutrality: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
- On his father: “I really liked riding with him on his bicycle on Saturdays. He was very fond of fishing. I don’t think I liked fishing. I mean, you had to sit quietly and still, but I enjoyed the ride. And it was fun, it was fun.”
- On Zimbabwe: “We Africans should hang our heads in shame. How can what is happening in Zimbabwe elicit hardly a word of concern let alone condemnation from us leaders of Africa?”
Time and again Tutu has stood up and spoken a firm message of truth, love and justice. We need more of that.
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