Archbishop Desmond Tutu was known globally as a human rights activist and a strong voice for justice. He was intolerant of injustice and inhuman treatment wherever he saw it.
First, he criticized the Apartheid Government from Vorster to FW De Klerk. He was amongst a few voices within South Africa that had a comfortable position but insisted on using their influence to agitate for the liberation of the blacks.
After Apartheid fell, he did not stop there, he insisted that truth must be established, and justice must follow afterward, but beyond that, forgiveness is compulsory. He insisted, “There is no Justice without forgiveness”.
Tutu did not just criticize the whites, he was amongst the first black leaders to criticize Mandela. He didn’t stop there, he has criticized the ANC consistently. In 2017, he joined the anti-Zuma protest. He was already 86 at that point.
Though old, he could not sit back and watch such injustice and corruption happen. For Tutu, justice was the goal and injustice was the thing to fight.
He didn’t just believe it, he lived it. One time during the Soweto Protest while police were shooting and dispersing protesters, he walked through the barricades to tell the police to stop shooting. He had nothing but a Bible. One man said, “Tutu was either insane or very brave”.
That’s where my focus is! Tutu was 100% Christian. Everything he lived and did flowed from a Christian perspective. He said several times that Jesus was his inspiration and his thought guide. Tutu’s Christianity was the thing that led to his campaign against injustice.
Today, it will be hard to recognize such zest and quest in the hearts and lives of our clergies and Christians. Christians are indifferent to the plight of the world. We have been bastardized, that we do not understand it is our Father’s command to fix this world!
Tutu was never anything other than a Pastor, but it was from there that he influenced this world in a way that would never be forgotten.
Tutu’s Christianity was on public display in a way that could not be ignored. It drove his life!
Thinking of Tutu brings Mahatma Gandhi to mind. Although it is rarely known, Mahatma Gandhi has said that all that he did and lived for, the nonviolent means of achieving an aim, he learnt from Jesus. Ironic. It was tragic that Gandhi never became a Christian, he said “I like their Christ but I don’t like their Christian”. Yet, the Christ influence on the life of Gandhi is important. Christians have a powerful framework from which we can launch, and have been called to, efforts to change our world. Fortunately and unfortunately, it is up to us!
The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives freshwater, 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,”
As Tutu goes home, may his life inspire us to action. We’ve been called for this. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
By Lengdung Tungchamma.