It’s one of those moments when an event draws the world’s attention — the death of a charismatic and magnificent personality. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M. Tutu and Nobel Prize Laureate was a South African Anglican bishop and theologian. One of the things that defined him was his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was the first black African that ascended the seat of the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985-1986 and also as the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986-1996. Tutu passed away this day, Sunday, December 26, 2021, but his legacy remains indelible.
His endless call for justice, peace and reconciliation as seen in the various divisions linked with apartheid and his contribution to the betterment of the human condition are part of his legacy. His activism and evangelism weren’t just about South Africa, but Africa as a whole and the world at large. In his insatiable quest for equity and justice in human dealings, Desmond Tutu left an impact that is seen in some of his timeless and universal reactions to topical issues. Here are some of his insightful quotes.
“Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people?”
“God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.”
“We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.”
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
“Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument. Good sense does not always lie with the loudest shouters, nor can we say that a large, unruly crowd is always the best arbiter of what is right.”
“Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality. Language creates the reality it describes.”
“There is nothing more difficult than waking someone who is only pretending to be asleep.”
“Inclusive, good-quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies.”
“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”
“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”
“Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, that person will hold the keys to our happiness; that person will be our jailor. When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings.”
“If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends.You talk to your enemies.”
“We are made for loving. If we don’t love, we will be like plants without water.”
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
‘Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.’
With the number of conflicts going on in the world and the dire need for their resolution, the passing of such a figure will stir up emotions. His call for us to go deep into the source of our humanity and his stress on the importance of fraternity and mutual respect and acceptance remain relevant.
Photo by Benny Gool
CCO (wikimedia commons)