Archbishop Desmond Tutu on forgiveness: “In the end, good prevails”


Archbishop Desmond Tutu

YouTube video of Archbishop Tutu on forgiveness

The ANC has not invited Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the funeral for Nelson Mandela, apparently because the Archbishop has been very critical of the government.  This slight to Archbishop Tutu reflects poorly on the current South African government, that they cannot rise above petty politics.

Over the years, I have learned many things from the life, work and teachings of Archbishop Tutu, and one is that revenge is not only petty, it is destructive especially for those who will not foreswear revenge.

In this video, the Archbishop says, “Imagine if we had chosen the path of retribution and revenge, our country would have been dust and ashes now.” He goes on, “When you nurse a grudge, your blood pressure shoots up and you feel it in your tum tum; whereas when you forgive, your blood pressure goes down, and you have a physical well-being that reflects your spiritual well-being.”

When I was at the American Academy of Religion last month, I learned from South African colleagues who had been long time anti-apartheid activists that there is a new “Kairos” document underway.  The original Kairos Document  of 1985 was written by a group of black South African theologians. The statement was a direct biblical and theological challenge to the churches to oppose apartheid.

The new “Kairos” project, I learned, is against corruption in South Africa.

“In the end, good prevails.” But not without struggle.


About Susan Thistlethwaite

I am President Emerita and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary; I write for the public here and in local papers. I am interested in what I call "public theology," or how deeper meaning is made and contested in the public square.
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