Desmond Tutu quotes page 1
born October 7, 1931; South African social rights activist, former
You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.
When the white 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.
Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.
We used to say to the apartheid government, "You may have the guns, you may have all this
power, but you have already lost. Come, join the winning side."
Do a little bit of good wherever you are; it's those little bits of good put together that
overwhelm the world.
Religion is like a knife: You can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone's back.
We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His
standards are quite low.
South Africa, so utterly improbably, is a beacon of hope in a dark and troubled world.
My father always used to say, "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.
For goodness sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government
was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic
and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.
I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum.
I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who
considers himself my master. I want the full menu of human rights.
A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.
Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace
can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we
condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of
military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach
I am 52 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,
whereas a young person of eighteen can vote. And why? Because he or she possesses that
wonderful biological attribute - a white skin.
Freedom and liberty lose out by default because good people are not vigilant.
We refuse to be treated as the doormat for the government to wipe its jackboots on.
You and I are created for transcendence, laughter, caring. God deliberately did not make the
world perfect, for God is looking for you and me to be fellow workers with God.
We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because
black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about;
our very skins. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given.
Unless we work assiduously so that all of God's children, our brothers and sisters, members of
our one human family, all will enjoy basic human rights, the right to a fulfilled life, the right of
movement, of work, the freedom to be fully human, with a humanity measured by nothing less
than the humanity of Jesus Christ himself, then we are on the road inexorably to
Though wrong gratifies in the moment, good yields its gifts over a lifetime.
Those who invest in South Africa should not think they are doing us a favour; they are here
for what they get out of our cheap and abundant labor, and they should know that they are
buttressing one of the most vicious systems.
God created us for fellowship. God created us so that we should form the human family,
existing together because we were made for one another.
Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is
stronger than death.
I will never tell anyone to pick up a gun. But I will pray for the man who picks up a gun, pray
that he will be less cruel than he might otherwise have been.
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.
We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it
must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. If peace could come to South
Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land.
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?
You must show the world that you abhor fighting.