Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Desmond Tutu: 1931 - 2021

 


I had the great good fortune to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at Johns Hopkins University in 1992. my junior year of high school, just as apartheid was coming to an end. The mood was triumphant and aspirational. I have to say that I remember my conversation with the cute college student sitting next to me more vividly than the particulars of the speech. What stands out most after all these years was Tutu's statement that after decades of being a pariah state, South Africa now had the opportunity to serve as a model for racial justice and reconciliation.

Judging by the obituaries and editorials accompanying Tutu's passing, he succeeded in this goal. It's important to remember that you don't have to achieve perfection to serve as an example. Whether you are an individual, an organization, a faith community, or a nation state, we all exist with flaws, even while we are doing our best work. I am sure this is true of every church I visited and every person I interviewed. I still learned from the journey. I hope we can all keep learning.

Table Mountain lit up in purple to honour the memory of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Cape Town. Photograph: Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty

Table Mountain lit up in purple to honour the memory of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Cape Town. Photograph: Rodger Bosch/AFP via Getty

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