As quoted in New York Times (19 October 1984)
Desmond Tutu quotes
Birthdate: 7. October 1931
Other names: Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African anti-apartheid and social rights activist, as well as an Anglican clergyman and theologian. He was the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and bishop of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa . Theologically, he sought to fuse ideas from black theology with African theology.
Born to a poor family in Klerksdorp, Tutu is of mixed Xhosa and Motswana heritage. Moving around South Africa as a child, he trained as a teacher and married Nomalizo Leah Tutu, with whom he had several children. In 1960, he was ordained as a priest and in 1962 moved to the United Kingdom to study theology at King's College London. After this education he returned to southern Africa, working as a lecturer at the Federal Theological Seminary and then the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. In 1972, he returned to London as the Theological Education Fund's director for Africa, necessitating regular tours of the continent. Back in South Africa, he took an active role in opposition to the apartheid system of racial segregation and white-minority rule. During the 1980s, he emerged as one of the most prominent anti-apartheid activists within South Africa. Unlike other sectors of the anti-apartheid movement, he stressed non-violent protest.
After Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in 1990 and negotiated the dissolution of apartheid with President F. W. de Klerk, Tutu became a supporter of the new government. Mandela selected Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Since apartheid's fall, Tutu has campaigned on other social justice issues; combating poverty, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, as well as opposition to forms of prejudice like racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.
Tutu has been widely praised for his anti-apartheid activism. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2007; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. He had attracted some criticism for his views on Zionism and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He has also compiled several books of his speeches and sayings.
Quotes Desmond Tutu
"And God Smiles," sermon preached at All Saints Church, Pasadena, California (6 November 2005)
Context: This family has no outsiders. Everyone is an insider. When Jesus said, "I, if I am lifted up, will draw..." Did he say, "I will draw some"? "I will draw some, and tough luck for the others"? He said, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all." All! All! All! – Black, white, yellow; rich, poor; clever, not so clever; beautiful, not so beautiful. All! All! It is radical. All! Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Bush – all! All! All are to be held in this incredible embrace. Gay, lesbian, so-called "straight;" all! All! All are to be held in the incredible embrace of the love that won’t let us go.
Address at his enthronement as Anglican archbishop of Cape Town (7 September 1986)
Often attributed to Desmond Tutu, actual source is G. W. F Hegel: What experience and history teach is this — that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it. Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1832)
„Do a little bit of good wherever you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world“
Variant: Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
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„It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.“
— Desmond Tutu, God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time
Source: God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time
„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.“
As quoted in Unexpected News : Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes (1984) by Robert McAfee Brown, p. 19
Speech in Boston (2002)
Context: In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.
What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.
„Without us, God has no eyes, without us, God has no ears; without us, God has no arms or hands. God relies on us. Won't you join other people of faith in becoming God's partners in the world?“
Forward (April 2011)
God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations (2011)
Context: Some of my friends are skeptical when they hear me say this, but I am by nature a person who dislikes confrontation. I have consciously sought during my lifetime to emulate my mother, whom our family knew as a gentle “comforter of the afflicted.” However, when I see innocent people suffering, pushed around by the rich and the powerful, then, as the prophet Jeremiah, says, if I try to keep quiet is is as if the word of God burned like a fire in my breast. I feel compelled to speak out, sometimes to even argue with God over how a loving creator can allow this to happen.
In the Church of Sant'Egido in Rome, home of an extraordinary community of lay people devoted to working with the poor, there is an old crucifix that portrays Christ without arms. When I asked about its importance to the community, I was told that it shows how God relies on us to do God's work in the world.
Without us, God has no eyes, without us, God has no ears; without us, God has no arms or hands. God relies on us. Won't you join other people of faith in becoming God's partners in the world?
As quoted in God’s Mission in the World : An Ecumenical Christian Study Guide on Global Poverty and the Millennium Development Goals (2006) by The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Context: I don't preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. 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.
„I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. 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.“
"Desmond Tutu Would Prefer Hell Over A Homophobic Heaven" at The Huffington Post (26 July 2013) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/desmond-tutu-hell-homophobia_n_3661120.html
Context: I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. 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. I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.