Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Address

On November 13, 2007 I joyfully attended Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s address on reconciliation at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. It was a heartfelt address in which the Archbishop emanated charm, wit, compassion, and humor. Through a couple of humorous self-deprecating jokes, Tutu quickly became one with the audience.

He proceeded in a very biblically based way to discuss human potential to forgive. He stressed that the human capacity to love and forgive even the most reprehensible deeds in a way reaches towards the divine. Although not going into great detail about the reconciliation process in South Africa, he did draw on heartfelt examples in which South Africans had shown an immense ability to embrace their oppressors in an embrace of reconciliation.

Although relatively small in stature, his sheer presence was powerful and yet gentle at the same time. Impressed by his intellect and captivated by his oratory abilities, the address was truly a memorable one for me. The full video of the address can be seen on the National Cathedral’s website

http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/ - (Scroll down and look for the same picture of Tutu as presented here)

I highly recommend all to view it.


Graham said...

Wow. This speech was really powerful. He covers so much ground: global warming, genocide, violence, activism. He really tries to cover the question, "Why are we here?" I love the way he contrasts all that serious stuff with jokes and stuff. What a great speaker!

Grace said...

That's great that this is available online! That was a great speech, moving but also entertaining, with jokes about his wife teasing him. I think he has a very interesting message and one that is not heard very often. Instead of seeking justice, he is simply promoting reconciliation. Maybe this is actually a more achievable goal.

Lisa P said...

The fact that he uses humor reminds me so much of other great non violent activists we've studied, Gandhi and the Dalai Lama specifically. It goes to show how humor is such a powerful tool to combat fear and timidity. I have never seen Archbishop Tutu speak, but I'm sure that the crowd was at ease and didn't find it difficult to relate to him because of his humor. I know it's been a common theme we've discussed throughout the semester, but I think that goes to show how successful it is. It's also a great way to rally people and get them excited about a cause, people will be much more likely to remember a joke than a threat or scare tactic. Some food for thought... we all should introduce more humor into our lives and the lives of others, I truly think it's a fantastic way to lighten tense moments and lessen stress, in our personal lives and professional ones.

Susan said...

What I found really compelling when I attended his speech was that even though he argued through a Christian perspective, nearly anyone would have been drawn in by what he had to say. He was incredibly witty and engaging, and the themes he addressed are truly universal. And I think Lisa's comments about his use of humor are particularly apt.

Johanna said...

When I first arrived at Archbishop Tutu's lecture, I was more excited to see a current social justice icon than I was to actually listen to what he had to say. Then, from his first sentence, I was captivated. His animation and (as others have already said) his humor surprised me. When he really wanted to get a point across, he whispered it as if what he was saying was an important secret. I thought this technique was extremely effective in keeping people's attention. I love that Tutu spoke so enthusiastically about the importance of reconciliation in today's world.

Anonymous said...

It was a beautiful address, as I attended as well. When he was discussed in class, I did not know much about him, but I was encouraged to learn more about him after hearing of his demeanor and personality. He was engaging, and I hope more leaders can learn from his way of being.