“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness,”Archbishop Desmond Tutu
When reflecting on the life and work of great people I always feel the inclination to speak less and observe more. Unrealistic I know, I want their wisdom and insight to rub off on my consciousness; to help make sense of the chaos and confusion confronting me daily. To help manage my anger and impatience with racial/human injustice and inequity. Keeping it real, I am exhausted and out of patience with those who oppress others AND those who remain silent while witnessing oppressors, oppress.
Living an honorable, purpose-filled life requires the deepest commitment and gritty, messy WORK. Even with the clearest intentions and most heartfelt goals, you find yourself hitting the “trying my best but dayum” reset button often and having to remind yourself frequently, the effort [and headache/heartache] really is worth it.
This life experience is truly about the journey and retrospective it leaves in its trail.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Peacekeeper. Equity and Justice Champion. Anti-Apartheid Warrior transitioned yesterday on December 26 in Cape Town, South Africa. And though the world mourns the Bishop’s passing, all we (those who held love and admiration for him) can seem to do is reflect on the wonder that is/was his life example.
I’ve been reflecting on the post Apartheid work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which was formed in 1995 and chaired by Bishop Tutu. The TRC is not easy for me to digest; at all.
The courage required of victims to share stories of their unimaginable suffering. The reserve it takes for observers to simply listen. The agreement to offer transgressors amnesty if they would simply confess their HORRENDOUS crimes against South African Blacks. The DIVINE strength required of those who suffered to heal and/or forgive.
It is ALL painful, and yet, it was a successful vehicle to moving beyond the devastation of Apartheid to allow South Africans an opportunity to heal and thrive in their newly formed , BLACK lead, Democracy.
I have no illusions. I am unable to believe such a transformation will ever occur in the United States. America has never had the courage and/or self-initiated motivation necessary to face history and itself, allowing for TRUE and LASTING restorative justice and transformational change.
Nevertheless I can hear Bishop Tutu say:
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
And here is where my hope and belief rests, finding resolve and purpose.
May we all understand the assignment and commit to its high bar and steadfast journey.
Take rest Peace Warrior and Liberator Tutu, you have certainly earned it.
- Desmond Tutu, Whose Voice Helped Slay Apartheid, Dies at 90 – NY Times, 26 Dec 2021
- Desmond Tutu and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – 60 Minutes, 1997
- Apartheid Museum – https://www.apartheidmuseum.org/resources
- The Forgiveness Project – https://www.theforgivenessproject.com/stories-library/desmond-tutu/
Illustration: Artist Nikkolas Smith