Quotes by Desmond Tutu
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Desmond Tutu. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Desmond Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born 7 October 1931) is a South African Anglican cleric and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. He was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, in both cases being the first black African to hold the position. Theologically, he sought to fuse ideas from black theology with African theology.
Tutu was born of mixed Xhosa and Motswana heritage to a poor family in Klerksdorp, Union of South Africa. Entering adulthood, he trained as a teacher and married Nomalizo Leah Tutu, with whom he had several children. In 1960, he was ordained as an Anglican priest and in 1962 moved to the United Kingdom to study theology at King's College London. In 1966 he returned to southern Africa, teaching at the Federal Theological Seminary and then the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. In 1972, he became the Theological Education Fund's director for Africa, a position based in London but necessitating regular tours of the African continent. Back in southern Africa in 1975, he served first as dean of St Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg and then as Bishop of Lesotho; from 1978 to 1985 he was general-secretary of the South African Council of Churches. He emerged as one of the most prominent opponents of South Africa's apartheid system of racial segregation and white-minority rule. Although warning the National Party government that anger at apartheid would lead to racial violence, as an activist he stressed non-violent protest and foreign economic pressure to bring about universal suffrage.
In 1985, Tutu became Bishop of Johannesburg and in 1986 the Archbishop of Cape Town, the most senior position in southern Africa's Anglican hierarchy. In this position he emphasised a consensus-building model of leadership and oversaw the introduction of women priests. Also in 1986, he became president of the All Africa Conference of Churches, resulting in further tours of the continent. After President F. W. de Klerk released the anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990 and the pair led negotiations to end apartheid and introduce multi-racial democracy, Tutu assisted as a mediator between rival black factions. After the 1994 general election resulted in a coalition government headed by Mandela, the latter selected Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses committed by both pro and anti-apartheid groups. Since apartheid's fall, Tutu has campaigned for gay rights and spoken out on a wide range of subjects, among them the Israel-Palestine conflict, his opposition to the Iraq War, and his criticism of South African presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In 2010, he retired from public life.
Tutu polarised opinion as he rose to notability in the 1970s. White conservatives who supported apartheid despised him, while many white liberals regarded him as too radical; many black radicals accused him of being too moderate and focused on cultivating white goodwill, while Marxist–Leninists criticised his anti-communist stance. He was widely popular among South Africa's black majority, and was internationally praised for his anti-apartheid activism, receiving a range of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize. He has also compiled several books of his speeches and sermons.
The world's forests are a shared stolen treasure that we must put back for our children's future.
Without forgiveness, there is no future.
Forgiveness is an absolute necessity for continued human existence.
The simple truth is, we all make mistakes, and we all need forgiveness.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
All the United States, it is a society that is split like to the bottom, that had very poor people in the country that is one of the wealthiest countries.
Sometimes you want to whisper in God's ear, 'God, we know you are in charge, but why don't you make it slightly more obvious?'
Arrogance really comes from insecurity, and in the end our feeling
that we are bigger than others is really the flip side of our feeling that we are smaller than others.
You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.
The moment our dignity is undermined, we get up in arms and want to see our dignity restored especially if we are humiliated.
We mustn't romanticize suffering. It can turn people bitter and hard, although it does seem to have been almost indispensable in making people into the kind of leaders that we admire.
Peace comes when you talk to the guy you most hate. And that's where the courage of a leader comes, because when you sit down with your enemy, you as a leader must already have very considerable confidence from your own constituency.
People often speak of God being even-handed. God is not even-handed. God is biased, in favor of the weak, of the despised.
We have a planet that is at risk, where resources don't have a permanent life. We are going to have to make the decision: are we going to survive or are we waiting for our extinction? One day we will wake up and find people are fighting not for oil but water.
When you think of the sort of things that happen when a genocide happens, it's again not people who are intrinsically evil.
You ask when is it that you can say yes we have had enough. It is enough revenge and I think now we have restored the equilibrium. It never happens!
There is no peace precisely because there has been no justice. As painful and inconvenient as justice may be, we have seen that the alternative allowing accountability to fall by the wayside is worse.
There is no peace in Southern Africa. There is no peace because there is no justice. There can be no real peace and security until there be first justice enjoyed by all the inhabitants of that beautiful land. The Bible knows nothing about peace without justice, for that would be crying "peace, peace, where there is no peace". God's Shalom, peace, involves inevitably righteousness, justice, wholeness, fullness of life, participation in decision-making, goodness, laughter, joy, compassion, sharing and reconciliation.
There is no situation that is not transformable. There is no person who is hopeless. There is no set of circumstances that cannot be turned about by ordinary human beings and their natural capacity for love of the deepest sort.
People took some part of us and used it to discriminate against us. In our case, it was our ethnicity; it's precisely the same thing for sexual orientation.
Like humility, generosity comes from seeing that everything we have and everything we accomplish comes from God's grace and God's love for us ... Certainly it is from experiencing this generosity of God and the generosity of those in our life that we learn gratitude and to be generous to others.
When we look at a conflict, it is so often rooted in injustice, prejudice, competition for resources, poverty, poor governance and corruption.
Dream of a world where children can laugh and play and not be blown up by a mine they thought was a toy.
We must stop climate change. And we can, if we use the tactics that worked in South Africa against the worst carbon emitters.
Jesus could weep. Sometimes when you look at the ugliness that makes you weep, you know that the heart of God is also weeping. Jesus is for real. He does not give up on anyone, least of all on me.
Sadly, the things that we have set out as being worth striving for are not ultimately the things that satisfy human longings. And why not? Because we are practically the ultimate paradox: the finite made for the infinite.
Having looked the past in the eye, having asked for forgiveness and having made amends, let us shut the door on the past--not in order to forget it but in order not to allow it to imprison us.
At home in South Africa I have sometimes said in big meetings where you have black and white together: 'Raise your hands!' Then I have said: 'Move your hands,' and I've said 'Look at your hands -- different colors representing different people. You are the Rainbow People of God.'
Stability and peace in our land will not come from the barrel of a gun, because peace without justice is an impossibility.
A person who is assured of the love of God will see his fellow men in a different light and treat them and himself differently, and of course this also applies to business leaders.
Every praying person, every person who has an encounter with God, must have a passionate concern for his or her brother and sister, his or her neighbor. To treat any of these as if he were less than the child of God is to deny the validity of one's spiritual existence.
Our Christian faith is actually very subversive of the conventional notion of success -- the notion that what invests a person with worth is something extrinsic.
My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity especially on the situation in Gaza shames us all. It is almost like the behaviour of the military junta in Burma.
The fossil reserves that have already been discovered exceed what can ever be safely used. Yet companies spend half a trillion dollars each year searching for more fuel. They should redirect this money toward developing clean energy solutions.
To forgive is to abandon your right to pay back the predator in his own coin, but it is the loss that Liberates.
There are things that must evoke our anger to show we care. It is what we do with that anger. If we direct that energy we can use it positively or destructively.
Catharsis returns us to the purpose for which were originally intended -- to be called by God to do good -- and thus ultimately returns us to ourselves.
The time has now come to slow down, to sip Rooibos tea with my beloved wife in the afternoons, to watch cricket, to travel to visit my children and grandchildren, rather than to conferences and conventions and university campuses.
It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.
It is quite exhilarating to speak about a God who has an incredible bias, a notorious bias in favor of the downtrodden. You look at Exodus and the Israelites' escape from a bottomless pit. God is not evenhanded. God is biased up to his eyebrows.
People in apartheid South Africa can tell you that God cursed black people when they cursed Him. And so the hermetic people were condemned to be drawers of water and of wood.
My flock is black, my flock is white. One has got to say to our people, I love you. I care for you, enormously. And when I care about black liberation, it is because I care about white liberation.
In the end what matters is not how good we are but how good God is. Not how much we love Him but how much He loves us. And God loves us whoever we are, whatever we've done or failed to do, whatever we believe or can't.
Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter -- you are just there in front of the fire. You don't have to be smart or anything. The fire warms you.
Most poor people I know are proud and really want not a handout but a hand up. They do have an inherent pride and dignity, and we should treat them as those who have fallen on bad days.
We struggled against apartheid because we were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about. It is the same with homosexuality. The orientation is a given, not a matter of choice. It would be crazy for someone to choose to be gay, given the homophobia that is present.
If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible. There's nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.
This is a moral universe, which means that, despite all the evidence that seems to be to the contrary, there is no way that evil and injustice and oppression and lies can have the last word.
If we have loved well while we were alive, there is life after death here-our love will go on for generations.
I have no doubt that in the future, the laws that criminalize human love and commitment will look the way the apartheid laws do to us now, so obviously wrong.
There's no question about the reality of evil, of injustice, of suffering, but at the center of this existence is a heart beating with love. That you and I and all of us are incredible. I mean, we really are remarkable things. That we are, as a matter of fact, made for goodness.
The way sometimes we preach we make out that God is waiting eagerly to catch us out. It's not that way at all. I mean, it is extraordinary because it almost is as if God in fact wills us also to sin, but that is not true.
We have an extraordinary God. God is a mighty God, but this God needs you. When someone is hungry, bread doesn't come down from heaven. When God wants to feed the hungry, you and I must feed the hungry. And now God wants peace in the world.
It may seem daunting, but I am a prisoner of hope. We are more connected than ever before, we have more knowledge, and there are solutions if we work together. Today's technology is a great asset in encouraging global cooperation and understanding.
When we look squarely at injustice and get involved, we actually feel less pain, not more, because we overcome the gnawing guilt and despair that festers under our numbness. We clean the wound -- our own and others' -- and it can finally heal.
In terms of the New Testament the Jews must suffer, therefore we will put it into practice if we will in charge and there will be no sympathy for the Jews when the blacks take over.
I hope that when the time comes, I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life's journey in the manner of my choice.
Theology reminded me that, however diabolical the act, it did not turn the perpetrator into a demon. We had to distinguish between the deed and the perpetrator, between the sinner and the sin, to hate and condemn the sin while being filled with compassion for the sinner.
As the victim, you offer the gift of your forgiving to the perpetrator who may or may not appropriate the gift but it has been offered and thereby it liberates the victim.
People sometimes strive after and think they will find deep satisfaction for their psyches in wealth, sex or drugs, but then find that ultimately these things do not satisfy human longings.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are not just ethereal, spiritual, other-worldly activities. They have to do with the real world. They are realpolitik, because in a very real sense, without forgiveness, there is no future.
Restorative justice says No, the offense affected a relationship and what you are seeking for is to restore the relationship, to heal the relationship.
The abolition of the death penalty is making us a civilized society. It shows we actually do mean business when we say we have reverence for life.
Making the truth public is a form of justice. This is a moral universe and you've got to take account of the fact that truth and lies and goodness and evil are things that matter.
A time of crisis is not just a time of anxiety and worry.
It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or to choose badly.
You know when ubuntu is there, and it is obvious when it is absent. It has to do with what it means to be truly human, to know that you are bound up with others in the bundle of life.
The only separation the Bible knows is between believers on the one hand and unbelievers on the other. Any other kind of separation, division, disunity is of the devil. It is evil and from sin.
I've often been a little concerned by people who say they are color-blind, people who claim, in some ways, not to be aware of race, and I hope that those who will be looking for a vision of the future will be a little more honest, and say race actually does matter.
In order to turn around and do something better, we must first escape the vicious circle of self-righteousness and denial. And that calls for the humility to say I'm sorry. Please forgive me.
If forgiving depended on the culprit owning up, then the victim would always be at the mercy of the perpetrator. The victim would be bound in the shackles of victimhood.
When people were hungry, Jesus didn't say, Now is that political or social? He said, I feed you. Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.
God looks at the Middle East, looks at Palestine. When you go to the Holy Land and see what's being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it's the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa.
One of the things that people sense is that you are not doing this for self-glorification, you are doing it for the sake of others. The Dalai Lama has been in exile for so many years, yet the Chinese are running scared of him.
I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven.
I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.
Never let anyone make you feel inferior for being who you are. When you live the life you were meant to live, in freedom and dignity.
Trust is one of the fundamentals of human existence. We need to be able to trust one another. A man who can no longer trust anyone will become sick.
Every situation of justice is an occasion where someone is being humiliated and they want to restore their dignity. They think, I am a human being and I may not be able to defeat these people or destroy them, but I will hit out at them, because I am not a thing, I am human.
I wish that we did have a magic wand which we could wave and hey presto! Magic! Unfortunately life is not like that.
Freedom is indivisible. Whites can't enjoy their separate freedoms. They spend too much time and resources defending those freedoms instead of enjoying them.
We get most upset with those we love because they are close to us and we know that they are aware of our weaknesses... If only we could learn to live with our inadequacies, our frailties, our vulnerabilities, we would not need to try so hard to push away those who really know us.
We can arrive at better solutions to any problem or pain together, than we can by ourselves. The beauty of the modern age is that you are able to source answers, and sometimes the genius is in the combination of ideas and energy that does not reside in only one person.
For both the offender and the victim, the pain is there, often unacknowledged and that is when it can cause harm through festering. When I ignore a physical wound, it does not go away. No, it festers and goes bad.
I am a Nobel Peace laureate and my business should be to try to bring stability, not to be a red rag to bulls.
I have absolutely no objection to performance and success as long as they don't become false idols and threaten to rule our lives.
Some people are able to use Bible as a means of opposing injustice, whereas others are able to find justification.
I am passionately opposed to the death penalty for anyone. I think, myself, that it is an obscenity.
I don't want a moratorium on the death penalty. I want the abolition of it. I can't understand why a country USA that's so committed to human rights doesn't find the death penalty an obscenity.
Ubuntu tells us that we can create a more peaceful world by striving for goodness in each moment, wherever we are.
People are killed because they're gay. I don't think, What do I want to do today? I want to speak up on gay rights. No. It's God catching me by my neck. I wish I could keep quiet about the plight of the Palestinians. I can't!
Each of us has a God-shaped space within us. Only God can fill that space. But we run ourselves ragged trying to find things other than God to fill it with.
The reprisal against the suicide bomber does not bring peace. There is a suicide bomber, a reprisal and then a counter-reprisal. And it just goes on and on.
I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth with dignity and love.
I think we need to grow in our self-assurance that is not scared of being challenged, that the truth we uphold can stand up to the closest possible scrutiny.
The future of our fragile, beautiful planet home is in our hands. As God's family, we are stewards of God's creation. We can be wantonly irresponsible, or we can be caring and compassionate. God says, I have set before you life and death... Choose life.
That's the chief lesson I have learned: the texture of our universe is one where there is no question at all but that good and laughter and justice will prevail.
It is for real that injustice and oppression will not have the last word. There was a time when Hitler looked like he was going to vanquish all of Europe, and where is he now?
Many people ask me what I have learned from all of the experiences in my life, and I say unhesitatingly: People are wonderful. It is true. People really are wonderful.
I believe in MasterPeace. World leaders cannot push back armed conflict alone. We need the whole world to make this happen.
We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew.
It was Christians, you know, not Pagans, who were responsible for the Holocaust. It was Christians, not Pagans, who lynched people here in the South, who burned people at the stake, frequently in the name of this Jesus Christ.
As much as the world has an instinct for evil and is a breeding ground for genocide, holocaust, slavery, racism, war, oppression, and injustice, the world has an even greateer instinct for goodness, rebirth, mercy, beauty, truth, freedom and love.
I am fifty-two years of age. I am a bishop in the Anglican Church, and a few people might be constrained to say that I was reasonably responsible. In the land of my birth I cannot vote.
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.
God places us in the world as his fellow workers-agents of transfiguration. We work with God so that injustice is transfigured into justice, so there will be more compassion and caring, that there will be more laughter and joy, that there will be more togetherness in God's world.
Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.
Before Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962, he was an angry, relatively young man. He founded the ANC's military wing. When he was released, he surprised everyone because he was talking about reconciliation and forgiveness and not about revenge.
I am deeply moved by the warmth and courage of the Canadian people which I felt so strongly during my recent visit to your country. Your support of the struggle against apartheid restored me in my journey home and reassured me that many just people around the world are with us.
I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid.
I'm so thankful a significant majority of Americans are saying no to military intervention. We've got to find a solution that will in the end be one that makes Syria a better country, a better people.
History, like beauty, depends largely on the beholder, so when you read that, for example, David Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls, you might be forgiven for thinking that there was nobody around the Falls until Livingstone arrived on the scene.
Sometimes you wish you could keep quiet. It's the kind of thing you heard the prophet Jeremiah complain of where he says, You know God, I didn't want to be a prophet and you made me speak words of condemnation against a people I love deeply. Your word is like a fire burning in my breast.
If you do not for give you actually are tying yourself to the perpetrator, that you are going to live your life as a victim. And you won't experience a liberation that comes from forgiving.
The quality of human life on our planet is nothing more than the sum total of our daily interactions with one another. Each time we help, and each time we harm, we have a dramatic impact on our world.
It is a remarkable feat to be able to see past the inhumanity of the behavior and recognize the humanity of the person committing the atrocious acts. This is not weakness. This is heroic strength, the noblest strength of the human spirit.
In our own ways, we are all broken. Out of that brokenness, we hurt others. Forgiveness is the journey we take toward healing the broken parts. It is how we become whole again.
When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said Let us pray. We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.
When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.
The pressure to succeed has a lot to do with why people overstep the line. It is a peculiar weakness of western culture where we have made a fetish of success.
It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. And never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant.
If you recall the happiest moments in your life, they are all from when you were doing something for somebody else.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. Forgiving means abandoning your right to pay back the perpetrator in his own coin.
Give young people a greater voice. They are the future and they are much wiser than we give them credit for.
Part 2. It is how we free ourselves from our past errors. It is how we are able to move forward into our future, unfettered by the mistakes we have made.
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