'You and I, and everyone else, were born with the same purpose'
Words of wisdom from Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu died this morning, a couple months after reaching the age of 90. Born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa, he became a spiritual leader and hero of the anti-apartheid movement—work that in 1984 led to his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his “role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa.” When I heard of his death earlier, because I’m now wired to think of everything in terms of correspondence, I immediately thought of the following letter, written by Tutu to a newborn baby whose father had asked the Archbishop for some words of wisdom for his little girl. It’s quite lovely, and I think a fitting letter for today.
Hello, little sister.
You don’t know me. I am a very old grandfather from South Africa nearing the end of my journey on earth while your journey—on another continent many miles away—is just beginning. We may never meet on earth, so I thought to send you a secret. Well, it’s not really a secret because we should all know it. So I don’t mind if you tell everyone else.
Did you know that all people belong to one family, the human family? That although we may look nothing like each other, live in separate homes, practise our own cultures, subscribe to different religions—and some of us have more money than others—we are all sisters and brothers of God’s family?
You and I, and everyone else, were born with the same purpose. For love, for goodness and for one another.
God Bless You.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Cape Town, South Africa