When Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu took the stage at Clowes Memorial Hall Thursday evening, he asked for a moment of silence to honor the anniversary of 9/11 and the Sept. 12, 1977, assassination of South African anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko.
The rest of the evening was a celebration — of the power of love, possibility and the promise that good overcomes evil even in the face of what may appear to be overwhelming odds. Prior to Tutu's arrival on stage, Butler President James M. Danko and CTS President Matthew Myer Boulton announced the establishment of the Desmond Tutu Center, a joint venture in peace and reconciliation studies between the two institutions.
Financial support from the Dungy Family Foundation along with several other individuals made possible Tutu's visit — and the center's creation.
"I would like to thank you both for your two institutions, for wonderful collaborating in establishing this joint center named after me," Tutu said. "I am completely bowled over. One of the benefits of complexion like mine is that no one notices when you are blushing ...
"Adding to the very specialness of this occasion is that it is going to be a center headed up by a wonderful, gifted — indeed charismatic — compatriot with a scintillating record in the history of our liberation, this young professor, Allan Boesak."
Boesak and Tutu enjoy a close friendship, solidified through years of standing against the injustice of apartheid.
"You presidents are really smart," Tutu said to Boulton and Danko. "I can understand why you are presidents, you are smart in picking Allan to be director of this center. You should see him addressing thousands. You've had a tiny taste of it here ...
"The people could do anything he told them to do. He would energize them, inspire. He's been given an incredible gift. ... He was one of youngest presidents of World Alliance of Reformed Churches, not because he is precocious, just outstandingly brilliant."
Boesak said he was delighted that "a friendship of over 30 years will be solidified in something other than memories of yesterday; I look forward to building not just a future of ourselves and the young people of South Africa, but the young people of Indianapolis, the young people of Indiana, the young people of the United States and the young people of the world."
He added, "We will try to create an atmosphere of excitement. ... We will try to bring people together from across the world in a conference that every year will seek to find ways in which the legacy of Tutu can find expression. Even for those with faith in nothing more than justice..."
Organizers estimate that more than 2,100 people attended the program.
Tutu, the 1984 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and South African President Nelson Mandela's choice to lead he post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is a world-renowned advocate for peace.
In honor of the occasion of his visit and the center established to extend his legacy, we offer some excerpts from Tutu's speech.
"I used to come here and your heart just leapt to see ... especially young people on university campuses worrying about me when they ought be worried about grades and exams. ... They were fantastic because they were involved in anti-apartheid movement, the Free South Africa movement ... out demonstrating seeking to force their institution to divest.
"You had a ... president who was opposed to sanctions, President Reagan. But do you know what? Because of the education of all those involved in the anti-apartheid struggle supporting us, especially young people, it was fantastic because they helped to change the moral climate in the United States to the extent Congress was able to pass anti-Apartheid legislation with a presidential veto override.
"That is the stuff of which your predecessors were made of. They could change."
"We would not have seen our freedom without your
help. ... It was one of the great privileges we had, to come to this country
and say, 'Please, help us.' And you gave us the help, and today we are free. It
is a privilege to be able return and say 'Hey guys ... and guy-esses! Thank you. Thank you.'"
"Think of how we greet someone who removed the shackles from your ankles ... I have something really special. I have a magic wand – an incredible instrument and I wave it over people. You know? It will turn you into instant South Africans. It's so special that only clever people can see it.
"I wave it over you. Then I can say, 'Fellow South Africans, let'sgive these Americans a real humdinger of an applause!'"
"When missionaries came to our part of the world, they had the Bible, and we had the land. And they said, 'Let us pray.' We dutifully shut our eyes and when they said, 'Amen,' we had the Bible and they had the land.
"Well, some people reckon that we made a very bad, bad bargain. But, ha, no. Friends, no. For in that situation of injustice and oppression, the last thing you should give to the oppressed is a Bible.It was the most revolutionary thing you could have had.
"Those people who treat us like dirt, they've already lost, they've already lost — they've already lost because this is a moral universe. This is where right will ultimately prevail. ...
"The God we worship is notoriously biased in favor of the downtrodden, in favor of the poor, in favor of the outcast.
"If we really believed what the Bible tells us, you and I will not just shake hands, we would genuflect and, like the Buddhists, say, 'The God in me greets the god in you.'
"If we really believed this, just imagine the state of the world."
"It's not our politics that inspires us to do the things that we are doing; it is our faith. We had to ask (South Africa's oppressors), which Bible do you read?
"And you remember, when Jesus predicted his coming death in the fourth Gospel. He says of it, 'If were lifted up, I will draw all.' He didn't say some... 'I'll draw all.'
"Clever, foolish, rich, poor, white, black, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist. I will draw all, all, all. Assad. Obama. All, all, all. Gay, lesbian, transgender ... When I am lifted up, I will draw all, all, all in an incredible embrace where no one is left out."
"Suppose people were to go and bomb Syria. They are already devastated. You Americans are some of the most generous creatures God ever created. George Bush will probably be remembered for two things: The illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq, but he'll also be remembered for an incredible thing he gave. He set up something called PEPFA. We salute him because he invested in resources that should be used to combat malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.
"Why don't you drop food and not bombs?"
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