“He loved. He cried. He was forgiven. He forgave.” That is how Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he would like to be remembered, as shown in a clip on PBS NewsHour on December 26, 2021.
I learned about Desmond Tutu while researching Nelson Mandela years ago, and I came to appreciate the depth of their friendship and their shared mission as the launched the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Egil Aarvik, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, presented Bishop Tutu with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 at the height of Tutu's anti-apartheid activism. "Although he has never learned to hate, none has opposed injustice with a more burning anger," Aarvik said. Tutu's weapons were those of "spirit and reason."
Tutu called us to do what others have asked before: To beat our swords into ploughshares. And he did it with great force and vigor. He embraced life with a winning, unforgettable grin and a sense of wonder that was infectious.
In the last two weeks, I’ve thought often of how Tutu would have responded to two of our current crises—vaccine inequality and omicron on the one hand and the January 6 anniversary of the assault on the U.S. Capitol on the other. For much of his life he sought a peaceful way to freedom. How would he find that peaceful way now? How to combat inequality, reduce disparities, and bring people together? Where are the ploughshares—and the healers?
Image: Gauri Lankesh News