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May 17, 2017

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Oppression of gays is ‘new Apartheid’

Editor’s note: On this International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we revisit a 2014 interview Archbishop Tutu did with Ann Curry. This interview was conducted prior to his daughter Mpho’s coming out of the closet to him.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who led a decades-long fight against racial discrimination in South Africa, says the oppression of gay people around the world is the “new Apartheid.” In an interview arranged by the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, the retired Anglican archbishop spoke openly with NBC’s Ann Curry about God, the Bible, and homophobia.

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November 18, 2016

Desmond Tutu: Child marriage harms our human family

Millions of girls are married as children. This fact harms our human family and reminds us how deeply biased our world still is against mothers, sisters and daughters. We now have a moral duty to end one of humankind’s most destructive traditions. Experts say it is feasible in one generation.

Maybe because I am a man, I have spent much of my life ignorant of the scale and awfulness of child marriage. But, in recent years, I have talked to many girls and women who have educated me. It wasn’t until my retirement that I realised that one in three women in the developing world is married before the age of 18, or understood what they risk as a result.

Across the world, girls are powerless to choose when they marry, to whom, or whether they marry at all. The day of their marriage is the day they give up school. Under pressure to bear children, they cannot negotiate safe or consensual sex. As pregnant young mothers, they face the danger of injury and death. Indeed, childbirth is one of the biggest killers of teenage girls in the developing world — and their children face the same tragic odds.

Marrying a girl young, often to a much older man, is a sure way to inflict poverty and inequality in her community. But there is an alternative: to end this cycle is to free a girl to be safe and healthy — to let her flourish and become who she wants to be, on her own terms.

Five years ago, I organised a… continue reading on Financial Times

October 25, 2016

Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation Celebrates Archbishop Tutu with Facebook Live: #TutuAt85

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

On October 7th, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, was able to do something remarkable. We launched Facebook Live: #TutuAt85, a multi-continent celebration of the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 85th birthday. From Cape Town to Los Angeles and everywhere in between, people around the world joined on social media to with celebrate our Arch – all thanks to the wonderful support of our friends at Facebook.

The celebration kicked off with a first – even for the social networking platform – at 7 am SAST, Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation launched a Facebook Live stream of the Friday Eucharist, presided by the Archbishop himself. This event was unique as it marked the first time a major church service had ever been streamed live to Facebook. Thousands across the globe joined friends, family and community members gathered in St George’s Cathedral to rejoice and celebrate the life of this amazing man. In addition to the traditional Eucharist service, the Archbishop paid a moving tribute to the cathedral, where he paused to weep briefly.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu gives Eucharist at St. George’s Cathedral on October 7th, 2016 Photo: Sumaya Hisham

Archbishop Desmond Tutu gives Eucharist at St. George’s Cathedral on October 7th, 2016
Photo: Sumaya Hisham

That afternoon, the #ShareTheJoy team live-streamed as they went through downtown Cape Town, inspiring young people to perform acts of joy – a campaign inspired by the recent book by Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama, The Book of Joy. The streets of downtown Cape Town came alive as the #ShareTheJoy Team handed out cupcakes to passers by.

Human rights champion, Advocate Hina Jilani delivers the 6th Annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the Artscape Theatre. Photo: Sumaya Hisham

Human rights champion, Advocate Hina Jilani delivers the 6th Annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the Artscape Theatre.
Photo: Sumaya Hisham

For six years now, the celebration of the Archbishop’s birthday celebration day culminates in South Africa with the Desmond Tutu Annual Peace Lecture. An event sponsored by the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, this year’s lecture was hosted by Ms. Hina Jilani, an award-winning Pakistani Supreme Court advocate and human rights campaigner. Ms. Jilani who is a member of The Elders, an organization co-founded by Archbishop Tutu, gave a compelling speech on the need for peace in our communities. We were able to live-stream this event with the assistance of SABC television.

Of course, when the the celebration (at least the live-streaming portions) was wrapping up in Cape Town, we were just getting started celebrating across the globe! Friends and admirers of the Archbishop went live with their #TutuAt85 to share their birthday wishes to the Arch. Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Alanis Morissette, Graça Machel, FW de Klerk and so many others took time throughout the day to wish the Archbishop a Happy 85th!

And while dawn was breaking in Cape Town, the party was just getting started in Los Angeles! Quincy Jones, Incubus, Fishbone, Lily Haydn, Pato Banton, Steve Vai, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and so many more artists joined Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation for UNITY: The Desmond Tutu Legacy Project. The three hour event was a celebration of the Archbishop kicked off the beginning of #TutuAt85, the first of a series of concerts scheduled to take place in cities all over the world. This entire event was shared live with tens of thousands of people across the world.

Quincy Jones arrives to the Saban Theatre for UNITY: The Desmond Tutu Tribute Concert Photo: Michael Collopy

Quincy Jones arrives to the Saban Theatre for UNITY: The Desmond Tutu Tribute Concert
Photo: Michael Collopy

We are so especially grateful to everyone who helped to make the Archbishop’s 85th birthday an extra special one, and especially to our friends at Facebook for providing us with the technology and platform to be able to share this amazing day with his friends and supporters all over the world.

If you missed any part of the Facebook Live: #TutuAt85, check out the video archives on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DesmondTutuPF/

July 29, 2016

Desmond Tutu: Reaching Within Ourselves for Solutions to Global Violence

Photo by Sumaya Hisham

Photo by Desmond Tutu Legacy Foundation

Two knifemen claiming to be acting in the name of God beheaded an 85-year-old priest in Normandy this week.

In Jerusalem, troops destroyed the homes of 11 Palestinian families leading to clashes in which several Palestinians were wounded. In Mogadishu, a suicide bomber killed 13 people outside a United Nations office. In Aleppo, the United Nations called for a “critical” 48-hour ceasefire to ease the desperate plight of 200 000 civilians trapped in Syria’s all-but-destroyed second city. In Florida, two people died and 17 were injured after gunmen opened fire outside a Fort Myers nightclub – the latest in a string of mass shootings stretching back to Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999…

These acts of public violence and terrorism that we are witnessing across the world today are symptomatic of a shrinking global village led by people who prioritise their own interests above those of the rest of the human family.

Morality, our ability to discern right from wrong, and to seek and receive forgiveness, are among the characteristics that set us apart as a species. Love and compassion are in our DNA.

The development of technology has placed us all within reach of one another, but, instead of being led to understand and embrace each other, for our common good, we find ourselves embroiled in the pursuit of much narrower agendas.

Over my long lifetime I have been privileged to witness the advance of the concepts of human rights and universal justice.

But 71 years after the end of the Second World War and establishment of the United Nations, 60 years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott that came to define the US Civil Rights Movement, 49 years after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and 22 years since the demise of apartheid in South Africa symbolised the end of European domination over Africa, our world faces unprecedented levels of immorality, inequity, intolerance, insecurity, prejudice, greed, corruption – and impunity.

Instead of viewing the ghastly 9/11 attacks on US civilians as a sign of the necessity to build bridges, today, 15 years after the horrendous attacks, we have been led to the edge of the abyss.

Bombs continue to rain from the skies above Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, forcing more and more civilians to flee their homes. People in Somalia and Nigeria are likewise being forced into migrancy. And, on the streets of our cities – from Bagdad to Kabul, from Damascus to Gaza City and from Istanbul to Dallas to Paris to Munich – the global village is lurching from one incident of indiscriminate violence to the next.

Some of the perpetrators claim to be pursuing “just” military objectives; some, spiritual objectives; some acting in opposition to racism, economic or social injustice – and some are responding to their perceived or actual estrangement from society.

They have collectively triggered unprecedented levels of human migration, suffering and insecurity, and are contributing – daily – to a growing sense of immorality and crisis of leadership across the world.

Righteous people are asking: What do we do to turn back the tide of hatred, corruption and destruction? To whom do we turn for peace and security, for morality, and environmental and social sustainability?

Thankfully, we harbour the answers within ourselves, in acknowledging our inter-dependence. In understanding how much we need each other. Whether we are rich or poor, white, black, pink or green, Muslim, Jewish, Christian or Buddhist, from north or south…

When theCold War ended and the world surfed into the new global era on a giant wave of technology, people collectively failed to understand the structural and human impacts. We were quick to identify short-term economic opportunities, new free-trade zones, tax havens and financial tools to enable money to flow freely across the planet, but slow to embrace those members of the family we regarded as “other”. And, slow to comprehend the vacuum in checks and balances created by the reduction from two global super-powers to one.

Instead of entering the global village with grace and in humility – which is what set Nelson Mandela apart after ascending to South Africa’s presidency – some of the politically and economically powerful began to believe they were invulnerable.

The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that followed 9/11 were breathtaking in their shortsightedness and cost, while the ongoing protection of Israel and the territories it occupies, at the expense of Palestine, is a fundamental cause of global friction, as are access to fossil fuels – and, as climate change begins to bite, to water.

The human family has entered a phase of growing recklessness and willingness to disregard the rights of others, to grab resources and resort to violence to make their arguments or settle their differences.

Humanity is crying out for good leaders, role models with the skills, compassion and sense of justice to hear the cries of their neighbours, to reconcile differences in the human family and share the earth’s resources so that all can eat.

I am very sad.

As a young priest I travelled to the United States to meet leaders of the civil rightsmovement, and rejoiced in their victories over prejudice and discrimination. Today, I battle to reconcile that joy with the disproportionate number of African Americans in prison and being shot in the streets.

I spent much of my life opposing apartheid in South Africa, and was later given the honour of leading the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Today, the reconciliation project is on the back burner, inequity remains pervasive, and our leaders – like those of the rest of the world – have failed to emulate Mr Mandela’s selflessness.

I have had the privilege of being called to travel widely, to interact with leaders and paupers, and contribute where I could for justice and human rights. Today, the fabric of communities and cities is under threat from gunmen and bombers with a total disregard for the rights of anyone else.

Instead of asking how we may be contributing to turning back the immorality pandemic, we seekstealthier weapons, more draconian security solutions, and more economic prosperity for ourselves.

In effect, instead of reconciling anything, we are unravelling the human family. We are closing our eyes to our commonality, to our common purpose and our common interest. We are disavowing the love and compassion with which we were born. We are subverting the fact that we are made for inter-dependence.

Nobody is benefitting.

If you want to make peace, you speak to your enemy. You don’t shoot him or her. You don’t raise your voice; improve your argument, my father would have quite correctly advised.

I am an old man now. I pray for signs before I die of a new type of world leadership that eschews economic, ethnic, regional or religious dominance. I pray for a new cadre of leaders who make peace and equity in the global village, on earth, a priority.

If I don’t see these signs I will die of a broken heart.

(Source: Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation)

December 4, 2015

An Invitation to Forgive

by Desmond Tutu

As a young boy, I spent many nights watching helplessly as my father verbally and physically abused my mother. I can still recall the smell of alcohol, see the fear in my mother’s eyes, and feel the hopeless despair that comes when we see people we love hurting each other in incomprehensible ways. I would not wish that experience on anyone, especially not a child.

If I dwell in those memories, I can feel myself wanting to hurt my father back, in the same ways he hurt my mother. My mother was a gentle human being who did nothing to deserve the pain inflicted upon her. It is perfectly normal to want to hurt back when we have been hurt. But hurting back rarely satisfies. We think it will, but it doesn’t. If I slap you after you slap me, it does not lessen the sting I feel on my own face, nor does it diminish my sadness as to the fact you have struck me. Retaliation gives, at best, only momentary respite from our pain. The only way to experience permanent healing and peace is to forgive. Read More

October 7, 2015

10 Pieces of Wisdom from Desmond Tutu on his Birthday

Note:  This article was originally posted on The Wisdom Daily site. This post was updated from an earlier post on this site.

Today – October 7 – is Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 84th birthday.  I have the honor of serving on the Board of The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation (DTPF)  whose mission is to help provide tools to create peace within, among and between people. Peace-making or what I call Peace-ing is an ongoing daily practice of attending to our own self and our ever widening webs of relationships that are our families, our communities and the diverse people of the world. Meeting Archbishop Tutu, hearing him speak and teach is an extraordinary experience in witnessing humility, wisdom, courage, humor, trust and love – he embodies fierce grace! In celebrating Tutu’s birthday the gift Tutu surely wants most is for people to work a bit harder on what is the really big idea: creating better people.

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