Hot 50+ Desmond Tutu Quotes

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Who is Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tuto, the South African Anglican cleric and theologian was born on the 7th October 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa. Initially, he trained as a teacher and started a family, before deciding to enter the church, subsequently being ordained in 1960 and studying theology at King’s College London.

Tuto continued to teach on the topic of theology in various institutions within South Africa, before serving as dean of St Mary’s Cathedral and then Bishop of Lesotho. It was during this time of the later 1970s that he played an active and outspoken role in opposing apartheid in South Africa, often promoting non-violent protest and the involved on economic pressures from external countries.

New roles as the Bishop of Johannesburg and Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986 gave him a far greater platform for change, introducing women priests and touring Africa promoting religious cooperation. Upon release from Prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela asked Tutu to oversee a commission whose purpose was to investigate human rights abuses for both sides of the anti-apartheid efforts.

Despite polarising opinion on both sides of the political spectrum, Tutu was popular among the black majority of South Africa and received countless accolades from the international community, including the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on promoting gay rights, anti-apartheid and civil rights.

Desmond Tutu Quotes

1. Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

2. 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.

3. Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you dont want to repeat what happened.

4. 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.

5. We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.

6. Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.

7. Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.

8. When the 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.

9. We learn from history that we don’t learn from history!

10. 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.

11. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

12. We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family.

13. In the end what matters is not how good we are but how good God is. Not how much we love Him but how much He loves us. And God loves us whoever we are, whatever we’ve done or failed to do, whatever we believe or can’t.

14. A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

15. Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter — you are just there in front of the fire. You don’t have to be smart or anything. The fire warms you.

16. We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew… Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful… and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.

17. Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality. Language creates the reality it describes.

18. Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone’s back.

19. Dear Child of God, I write these words because we all experience sadness, we all come at times to despair, and we all lose hope that the suffering in our lives and in the world will ever end. I want to share with you my faith and my understanding that this suffering can be transformed and redeemed. There is no such thing as a totally hopeless case. Our God is an expert at dealing with chaos, with brokenness, with all the worst that we can imagine. God created order out of disorder, cosmos out of chaos, and God can do so always, can do so now–in our personal lives and in our lives as nations, globally. … Indeed, God is transforming the world now–through us–because God loves us.

20. We are made for loving. If we don’t love, we will be like plants without water.

21. It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.

22. You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.

23. Dear Child of God, I am sorry to say that suffering is not optional.

24. There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in

25. We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.

26. A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships.

27. There is nothing more difficult than waking someone who is only pretending to be asleep.

28. Out of the cacophony of random suffering and chaos that can mark human life, the life artist sees or creates a symphony of meaning and order. A life of wholeness does not depend on what we experience. Wholeness depends on how we experience our lives.

29. Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another, and cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.

30. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.

31. If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible. There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.

32. The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives fresh water, but it has no outlet, so it doesn’t pass the water out. It receives beautiful water from the rivers, and the water goes dank. I mean, it just goes bad. And that’s why it is the Dead Sea. It receives and does not give. In the end generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful.

33. Forgiveness does not relieve someone of responsibility for what they have done. Forgiveness does not erase accountability. It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek. It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous. Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed. Within every hopeless situation and every seemingly hopeless person lies the possibility of transformation.

34. It always comes back to our insecurities, as we say, “Oh, I’m not as good as you.” So instead of accepting that perhaps I am not as good as someone else in some ways and being comfortable with who I am as I am, I spend all my time denigrating you, trying to cut you down to my self-perceived size. The sad problem is that we see ourselves as being quite terribly small. Instead of spending my time being envious, I need to celebrate your and my different gifts, even if mine are perhaps less spectacular than yours.

35. Discovering more joy does not, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreaks without being broken.

36. Though wrong gratifies in the moment, good yields its gifts over a lifetime.

37. If you are setting out to be joyful you are not going to end up being joyful. You’re going to find yourself turned in on yourself. It’s like a flower. You open, you blossom, really because of other people. And I think some suffering, maybe even intense suffering, is a necessary ingredient for life, certainly for developing compassion.

38. Do a little bit of good wherever you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world

39. You show your humanity by how you see yourself not as apart from others but from your connection to others.

40. Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.

41. We are not responsible for what breaks us, but we can be responsible for what puts us back together again. Naming the hurt is how we begin to repair our broken parts.

42. Transformation begins in you, wherever you are, whatever has happened, however you are suffering. Transformation is always possible. We do not heal in isolation. When we reach out and connect with one another—when we tell the story, name the hurt, grant forgiveness, and renew or release the relationship—our suffering begins to transform.

43. What the Dalai Lama and I are offering,” the Archbishop added, “is a way of handling your worries: thinking about others. You can think about others who are in a similar situation or perhaps even in a worse situation, but who have survived, even thrived. It does help quite a lot to see yourself as part of a greater whole.” Once again, the path of joy was connection and the path of sorrow was separation. When we see others as separate, they become a threat. When we see others as part of us, as connected, as interdependent, then there is no challenge we cannot face—together

44. Much depends on your attitude. If you are filled with negative judgment and anger, then you will feel separate from other people. You will feel lonely. But if you have an open heart and are filled with trust and friendship, even if you are physically alone, even living a hermit’s life, you will never feel lonely.

45. I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.

46. We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.

47. Forgiveness is truly the grace by which we enable another person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew. To not forgive leads to bitterness and hatred. Like self-hatred and self-contempt, hatred of others gnaws away at our vitals. Whether hatred is projected out or stuffed in, it is always corrosive to the human spirit.

48. But suffering from a life-threatening disease also helped me have a different attitude and perspective. It has given a new intensity to life, for I realize how much I used to take for granted-the love and devotion of my wife, the laughter and playfulness of my grandchildren, the glory of a splendid sunset, the dedication of my colleagues. The disease has helped me acknowledge my own mortality, with deep thanksgiving for the extraordinary things that have happened in my life, not least in recent times. What a spectacular vindication it has been, in the struggle against apartheid, to live to see freedom come, to have been involved in finding the truth and reconciling the differences of those who are the future of our nation.

49. A very important but difficult piece of renewing relationships is accepting responsibility for our part in any conflict. If we have a relationship in need of repair, we must remember that the wrong is not usually all on one side, and we are more easily able to restore relations when we look at our contribution to a conflict.

50. Life is more than breath and a heartbeat; meaning and purpose are the life of life.

51. Giving the emotion a name is the way we come to understand how what happened affected us. After we’ve told the facts of what happened, we must face our feelings. We are each hurt in our own unique ways, and when we give voice to this pain, we begin to heal it.

52. It may be a procession of faithful failures that enriches the soil of godly success. Faithful actions are not religious acts. They are not even necessary actions undertaken by people of faith. Faithful actions, whether they are marked by success or they end in failure, are actions that are compelled by goodness.

53. To be neutral in a situation of injustice is to have chosen sides already. It is to support the status quo.

54. If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

55. 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 rights.

56. There is a certain kind of dignity we admire, and to which we aspire, in the person who refuses to meet anger with anger, violence with violence, or hatred with hatred.

57. We are wired to be caring for the other and generous to one another. We shrivel when we are not able to interact. I mean that is part of the reason why solitary confinement is such a horrendous punishment. We depend on the other in order for us to be fully who we are. (…) The concept of Ubuntu says: A person is a person through other persons.

58. 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

59. We are always at our best when compassion enables us to recognize the unique pressures and singular stories of the people on the other side of our conflicts.

60. My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.

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