I have a dream...
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Vision, Wisdom, and Teachings

Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa after apartheid came to an end in that nation. The goals of the Commission were to bring healing to a nation that had suffered through a period of terrible human rights abuses and facilitate a peaceful transition from despotism to democracy. If the perpetrators of human rights abuses during apartheid came forward and told the truth about what they had done to their victims, they were not prosecuted for their crimes. The Commission is a powerful testimony of how truth, forgiveness and reconciliation can transform incredible suffering into hope for the future.

The Moral Universe

“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. God is a God who cares about right and wrong. God cares about justice and injustice. God is in charge. That is what has upheld the morale of our people, to know that, in the end, good will prevail. It was these higher laws that convinced me that our peaceful struggle would topple the immoral laws of apartheid.”

God's Love

“Many people believe that they are beyond God's love - that God may love others, but that what they have done has caused God to stop loving them. But Jesus, by his example, showed us that God loves sinners as much as saints... And Jesus taught that he had come to seek and find not the righteous, but the lost and sinners.”

God's Dream

“God says, 'I have a dream... It is a dream of a world whose ugliness and squalor and poverty, its wars and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are changed into their glorious counterparts, where there will be more laughter, joy and peace; where there will be justice and goodness and compassion and love and caring and sharing. I have a dream that swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, that My children will know that they are members of one family, the human family, God's family, My family.' ”

Global Apartheid

“When we look around, we see God's children suffering everywhere. The poor are getting poorer, the hungry getting hungrier, and all over the world you see many of God's children suffering oppression. You see God's children often in prison for nothing. All over the world you see God's children treated as if they were rubbish. You would not be mistaken to call the situatlon between the haves and the have-nots, between the powerful and the powerless, a form of global apartheid.”

God's Partners

“God calls on us to be his partners, to work for a new kind of society where people count: where people matter more than things, more than possessions; where human life is not just respected, but positively revered; where people will be secure and not suffer from the fear of hunger, from ignorance, from disease; where there will be more gentleness, more caring, more sharing, more compassion, more laughter; where there is peace and not war.”

God's Family

“In God's family, there are no outsiders. All are insiders. Black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, Jew and Arab, Palestinian and Israeli, Roman Catholic and Protestant, Serb and Albanian, Hutu and Tutsi, Muslim and Christian, Buddhist and Hindu, Pakistani and Indian - all belong.”

“If we could but recognize our common humanity, that we do belong together, that our destinies are bound up in one another's, that we can be free only together, that we can survive only together, that we can be human only together, then a glorious world would come into being where all of us live harmoniously together as members of one family, the human family, God's family. In truth, a transfiguration would take place. God's dream would become a reality.”


“The first law of our being is that we are set in a delicate network of interdependence with our fellow human beings and with the rest of God's creation. In Africa, recognition of our interdependence is called ubuntu in Nguni languages, or botho in Sotho, which is difficult to translate into English. It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness; it speaks about compassion. A person with ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong to a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of ubuntu gives people resiliance, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”

Love of Enemies

“Dear Child of God, if we are truly to understand that God loves all of us, we must recognize that He loves our enemies too. God does not share our hatred, no matter what offense we have endured. We try to claim God for ourselves and for our cause, but God's love is too great to be confined to any one side of a conflict or to any one religion. And our prejudices, regardless of whether they are based on religion, race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or anything else, are absolutely and utterly ridiculous in God's eyes.”


“People really are wonderful. This does not mean that people cannot be awful and do real evil. They can. Yet, as you begin to see with the eyes of God, you start to realize that people's anger and hatred and cruelty come from their own pain and suffering. As we begin to see their words and behavior as simply the acting out of their suffering, we can have compassion for them. We no longer feel atacked by them, and we can begin to see the light of God shining in them. And when we begin to look for the light of God in people, an incredible thing happens. We find it more and more in people - all people.”


“Forgiveness gives us the capacity to make a new start. That is the power, the rationale, of confession and forgiveness....And forgiveness is the grace by which you enable the other person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew. Not to forgive leads to bitterness and hatred which, just like like self-hatred and self-contempt, gnaw away the vitals of one's being. Whether hatred is projected out or projected in, it is always corrosive of the human spirit.”

“In forgiving, people are not being asked to forget. On the contrary, it is important to remember, so that we should not let such atrocities happen again. Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. It means taking what happened seriously and not minimizing it; drawing out the sting in the memory that theatens to poison our entire existence.”

Ending Sexism

“I cannot be opposed to racism, in which people are discriminated against as a result of something about which they can do nothing - their skin color - and then accept with equanimity the gross injustice of penalizing others for something else they can do nothing about - their gender. There can be no true liberation that ignores the liberation of women.”

Restorative Justice

“We contend that there is another kind of justice, restorative justice, which was characteristic of traditional African jurisprudence. Here the central concern is not retribution or punishment. In the spirit of ubuntu, the central concern is the healing of breaches, the redressing of imbalances, the restoration of broken relationships, a seeking to rehabilitate both the victim and the perpetrator, who should be given the opportunity to be reintegrated into the community he has injured by his offense.”

Creating Peace

“There is no security from the barrel of a gun... there is no peace without justice and safety only comes when desperation ends. Inevitably it is when people sit down and talk that desperation ends. Negotiations happen not between friends; negotiations happen between enemies. And a surprising thing does seem to take place, at least it did in South Africa: enemies begin to find out that they can actually become friends, or at least collaborators for the common good.”

The Sacredness of God's Creation

“The Bible also tells us of our relationship to the rest of creation and the sacredness of God's creation... We are stewards of all this... doing it as God would - caringly, gently, not harshly and exploitatively, with a deep reverence, for all is ultimately holy ground and we should figuratively take off our shoes for it all has the potential... to reveal the divine. Every shrub has the ability to be a burning bush and to offer us an encounter with the transcendent.”

The Importance of Contemplation

“Dear Child of God, all of us are meant to be contemplatives. Frequently we assume that this is reserved for some rare monastic life, lived by special people who alone have been called by God. But the truth of the matter is that each one of us is meant to have that space inside where we can hear God's voice. God is available to all of us. God says, 'Be still and know that I am God'. Each one of us wants and needs to give ourselves space for quiet. We can hear God's voice most clearly when we are quiet, uncluttered, undistracted - when we are still. Be still, be quiet, and then you begin to see with the eyes of the heart.”