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No Future Without Forgiveness No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu
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“Ubuntu [...] speaks of the very essence of being human. [We] say [...] "Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu." Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, "My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours." We belong in a bundle of life. We say, "A person is a person through other persons."

[...] 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, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“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.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, “Yu, u nobuntu”; “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.” Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” We belong in a bundle of life. We say, “A person is a person through other persons.” It is not, “I think therefore I am.” It says rather: “I am human because I belong. I participate, I share.” 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, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“One of the most blasphemous consequences of injustice, especially racist injustice, is that it can make a child of God doubt that he or she is a child of God.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“Thus to forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest since anger, resentment, and revenge are corrosive of that summum bonum, that greatest good, communal harmony that enhances the humanity and personhood of all in the community.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“Our nation sought to rehabilitate and affirm the dignity and personhood of those who for so long had been silenced, had been turned into anonymous, marginalized ones. Now they would be able to tell their stories, they would remember, and in remembering would be acknowledged to be persons with an inalienable personhood. Our country’s negotiators rejected the two extremes and opted for a “third way,” a compromise between the extreme of Nuremberg trials and blanket amnesty or national amnesia. And that third way was granting amnesty to individuals in exchange for a full disclosure relating to the crime for which amnesty was being sought. It was the carrot of possible freedom in exchange for truth and the stick was, for those already in jail, the prospect of lengthy prison sentences and, for those still free, the probability of arrest and prosecution and imprisonment. The option South Africa chose raises”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“Anger, resentment, lust for revenge, even success through aggressive competitiveness, are corrosive of this good. To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. What dehumanizes you inexorably dehumanizes me. It gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them. When uhuru, or freedom and independence,”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“While Nelson Mandela was the most spectacular embodiment of the ANC’s commitment to peace and reconciliation, he was not the only leader so committed. There were others, younger and less well known, who had had harrowing experiences at the hands of apartheid’s exponents and had yet emerged from the ordeal unscathed, wonderfully seeking not revenge against the perpetrators but a healing for their traumatized and divided nation. Two such were themselves up and coming stars in the political firmament. They had been among the accused in one of the longest treason trials, dubbed the Delmas treason trial after the small town on the East Rand where it was held. One of this pair was Patrick “Terror” Lekota and the other was Popo Molefe. Both spent a spell in jail when they had met legends such as Nelson Mandela on”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“We prayed earnestly that God would bless our land and would confound the machinations of the children of darkness. There had been so many moments in the past, during the dark days of apartheid’s vicious awfulness, when we had preached, “This is God’s world and God is in charge!” Sometimes, when evil seemed to be on the rampage and about to overwhelm goodness, one had held on to this article of faith by the skin of one’s teeth. It was a kind of theological whistling in the dark and one was frequently tempted to whisper in God’s ear, “For goodness’ sake, why don’t You make it more obvious that You are in charge?”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“White people found that freedom was indeed indivisible. We had kept saying in the dark days of apartheid’s oppression that white South Africans would never be truly free until we blacks were free as well. Many thought it was just another Tutu slogan, irresponsible as all his others had been. Today they were experiencing it as a reality. I used to refer to an intriguing old film The Defiant Ones, in which Sidney Poitier was one of the stars. Two convicts escape from a chain gang. They are manacled together, the one white, the other black. They fall into a ditch with slippery sides. The one convict claws his way nearly to the top and out of the ditch but cannot make it because he is bound to his mate, who has been left at the bottom in the ditch. The only way they can make it is together as they strive up and up and up together and eventually make their way over the side wall and out.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“When I became Archbishop I set myself three goals for my term of office. Two had to deal with the inner workings of our Anglican (Episcopalian) Church—the ordination of women to the priesthood which our Church approved in 1992 and through which our Church has been wonderfully enriched and blessed; and the other in which I failed to get the Church’s backing, the division of the large and sprawling Diocese of Cape Town into smaller episcopal pastoral units. The third goal was the liberation of all our people, black and white, and that we achieved in 1994.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“The miracle was the result of the negotiated settlement. There would have been no negotiated settlement and so no new democratic South Africa had the negotiators on one side insisted that all perpetrators be brought to trial. While the Allies could pack up and go home after Nuremberg, we in South Africa had to live with one another.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“One might go on to say that perhaps justice fails to be done only if the concept we entertain of justice is retributive justice, whose chief goal is to be punitive, so that the wronged party is really the state, something impersonal, which has little consideration for the real victims and almost none for the perpetrator. We contend that there is another kind of justice, restorative justice, which was characteristic of traditional African jurisprudence. Here the central concern is not retribution or punishment. In the spirit of ubuntu, the central concern is the healing of breaches, the redressing of imbalances, the restoration of broken relationships, a seeking to rehabilitate both the victim and the perpetrator, who should be given the opportunity to be reintegrated into the community he has injured by his offense.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“I am a strong supporter of the recent extradition proceedings against General Pinochet. It would be quite intolerable that the perpetrator should decide not only whether he should get amnesty but that no one else should have the right to question the grounds on which he had so granted himself amnesty and for what offense.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“Our common experience in fact is the opposite—that the past, far from disappearing or lying down and being quiet, has an embarrassing and persistent way of returning and haunting us unless it has in fact been dealt with adequately. Unless we look the beast in the eye we find it has an uncanny habit of returning to hold us hostage.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“The moment for which I had waited so long came and I folded my ballot paper and cast my vote. Wow! I shouted, ‘Yippee!’ It was giddy stuff. It was like falling in love. The sky looked blue and more beautiful. I saw the people in a new light. They were beautiful, they were transfigured. I too was transfigured. It was dreamlike.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“as we say in our African idiom, a person is a person through other persons. To dehumanize another inexorably means that one is dehumanized as well.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“It is not too surprising that, having been involved in a policy as evil and dehumanizing as apartheid,”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“How do you convey that sense of freedom that tasted like sweet nectar for the first time? How do you explain it to someone who was born into freedom? It is impossible to convey. It is ineffable, like trying perhaps to describe the color red to a person born blind. It is a feeling that makes you want to cry and laugh at the same time, to dance with joy, and yet fearful that it was too good to be true and that it just might all evaporate.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“When we asked him why he was so dedicated to reconciliation and to being willing to make concessions to his opponents, he did not hesitate to say that it had all been due to the influence and witness of the Christian churches. This was echoed by Tokyo Sexwale, the first Premier of the leading industrial province of Gauteng, when he too came to greet our synod as it was meeting in his province. Clearly the Church had made a contribution to what was happening in our land, even though its witness and ministry had been something of a mixed bag. Presumably without that influence things might have turned out a little differently. It could also be that at a very difficult time in our struggle, when most of our leaders were in jail or in exile or proscribed in some way or other, some of the leaders in the churches were thrust into the forefront of the struggle and had thereby given the churches a particular kind of credibility—people like Allan Boesak, formerly leader of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church, Frank Chikane, former general secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), Peter Storey, former head of the Methodist Church, Beyers Naudé, the most prominent Afrikaner church dissident and also a general secretary of the SACC, Denis Hurley, formerly Roman Catholic Archbishop of Durban, and leaders of other faith communities who were there where the people were hurting. Thus when they spoke about forgiveness and reconciliation they had won their spurs and would be listened to with respect.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“What a profound scientific discovery that blacks, Coloreds (usually people of mixed race), and Indians were in fact human beings, who had the same concerns and anxieties and aspirations. They wanted a decent home, a good job, a safe environment for their families, good schools for their children, and almost none wanted to drive the whites into the sea. They just wanted their place in the sun. Everywhere else elections are”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“The black person entered the booth one person and emerged on the other side a new, transfigured person.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“The white person entered the voting booth burdened by the load of guilt for having enjoyed the fruits of oppression and injustice. He emerged as somebody new. He too cried out, “The burden has been lifted from my shoulders, I am free, transfigured, made into a new person.” He walked tall, with head held high and shoulders set square and straight. White people found that freedom”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“The adoption of this Constitution lays the secure foundation for the people of South Africa to transcend the divisions and strife of the past, which generated gross violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian principles in violent conflicts and a legacy of hatred, fear, guilt and revenge. These can now be addressed on the basis that there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimization. In order to advance such reconciliation and reconstruction, amnesty shall be granted in respect of acts, omissions and offences associated with political objectives and committed in the course of the conflicts of the past. To this end, Parliament under this Constitution shall adopt a law determining a firm cut-off date … and providing for the mechanisms, criteria and procedures, including tribunals, if any, through which such amnesty shall be dealt with at any time after the law has been passed.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“So too I would say we South Africans will survive and prevail only together, black and white bound together by circumstance and history as we strive to claw our way out of the morass that was apartheid racism. Up and out together, black and white together. Neither group on its own could or would make it. God had bound us, manacled us, together. In a way it was to live out what Martin Luther King, Jr., had said, “Unless we learn to live together as brothers [and sisters]”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“The rubric of proportionality had to be observed—that the means were proportional to the objective.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“In the law which Parliament passed establishing the commission, the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, it was enough for the applicant to satisfy the main conditions laid down: The act for which amnesty was required should have happened between 1960, the year of the Sharpeville massacre, and 1994, when President Mandela was inaugurated as the first democratically elected South African head of state. The act must have been politically motivated. Perpetrators did not qualify for amnesty if they killed because of personal greed, but they did qualify if they committed the act in response to an order by, or on behalf of, a political organization such as the former apartheid state and its satellite Bantustan homelands, or a recognized liberation movement such as the ANC or PAC. The applicant had to make a full disclosure of all the relevant facts relating to the offense for which amnesty was being sought. The rubric of proportionality had to be observed—that the means were proportional to the objective. If those conditions were met, said the law, then amnesty “shall” be granted. Victims had the right to oppose applications for amnesty by trying to demonstrate that these conditions had not been met, but they had no right of veto over amnesty. Nothing was said in the law about remorse—an omission that upset many of us at first until we realized that the legislature had been a great deal wiser than we had at first thought.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“He invited his white jailer to attend his inauguration as an honored guest, the first of many gestures he would make in his spectacular way, showing his breathtaking magnanimity and willingness to forgive. He would be a potent agent for the reconciliation he”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“he would urge his compatriots to work for and which would form part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he was going to appoint to deal with our country’s past. This man, who had been vilified and”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness
“I spoke once at Cambridge University in England and among other things I said, “Now the boycott of South African goods is lifted.” After my address a middle-aged woman accosted me and said, “Archbishop, I hear you and cerebrally I agree with you. But my parents brought me up to boycott South African goods and I have brought up my children to boycott South African goods too. So even now, when I buy South African goods I am furtive because all of me says I am doing something wrong.” I doubt that any other cause has evoked the same passion and dedication as the anti-apartheid cause and I doubt that any other country has been prayed for by so many people so intensely and for so long as has my motherland. In a sense, if a miracle had to happen anywhere, then South Africa would have been the obvious candidate.”
Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness