October 6, 2011
An active global citizen who embodies the values and virtues that the world needs now, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has chosen to stand up for the vulnerable. He has chosen to speak out against injustice. He has chosen to confront those who provide poor leadership. He has been committed to the values of environmental sustainability and he has galvanized a whole generation of activists to work for good environmental stewardship and an end to poverty.
Archbishop Tutu’s birthday celebrations have been marred, as his friend and fellow Nobel laureate, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was unable to attend. The South African government failed to issue the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa, in what critics say was a move to placate China, a major trading partner.
In typical fashion, Tutu was vocal in his criticism of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), vowing to pray for its downfall, just as he did for the demise of the Apartheid government in the 1980’s. He summarized the situation by saying, “We betrayed our struggle. All the people involved in our struggle are turning in their graves.”
Still an Untiring Activist
Desmond Tutu continues his activism and rarely refrains from criticizing the South African government’s policies, whether on HIV/AIDS or the ANC’s dominance of politics.
His concern for human rights and democracy extends beyond his own country. He demands freedom for the people of Myanmar and promotes the rights of Palestinians, often irking pro-Israel lobby groups. His latest campaign, championed through The Elders, a group of fellow global leaders, is to ban child marriage wherever it is practiced. Under Archbishop Tutu’s leadership, people around the world have grown up, and now demand an end to ancient, primitive practices that are widely abhorred, like child marriage.
The Tutu Legacy
Recently, Rev Mpho Tutu, the youngest daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, returned to South Africa to become the founding director of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. The foundation will preserve his papers, regulate the use of his name and continue to provide an honest commentary on moral issues.
Across the world, people of all religions, races, ages, ideologies and social classes have been touched directly or indirectly by Desmond Tutu. They have been impacted by his actions. Their lives have been changed by his choices. Even now his legacy continues, influencing generations to come.
Desmond Tutu is a leader who has elevated truth to its rightful place at the top of the list of human virtues. Without seeking the truth and always speaking the truth, even in the face of danger, we cannot know courage or effect the changes needed for survival. Archbishop Tutu reaches out now, as he always has, to the new generation with his powerful, timeless message of global peace. His example is one of showing that to pursue this noble goal takes a tireless commitment to, and a deep respect for, all life. People around the world can join in celebrating our great good fortune of Desmond Tutu’s birth and remarkable life of 80 years so far. May the future bless us with his presence, wisdom,and inspirational leadership for years to come.