Born in a world (his world) full of inequality and violence, his understanding of God and humanity unfolded through the history he lived and helped shape. As odd as it turns out, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu tells us that “at the center of all the odds is a heart beating with love.”
Aired on Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett, interview with Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu on “Tutu’s God of Surprises” I believe is one that will have an eternal impact on its viewers. While praises goes in part to Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa for helping in galvanizing South Africa’s ‘improbable peaceful transition’ from apartheid to democracy, a surprise to many people in the world today, the interview unequivocally conveys very serious and pertinent facts which articulate Bishop Tutu’s view that his God is full of surprises.
After throwing a light on a couple of experiences relating to ruthless injustice that reigned through the apartheid era in South Africa, Bishop Desmond Tutu touched a very sensitive part of the interview, at which point I was carried away. It was about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was formed after South Africa ‘got’ its freedom from an unpopular white minority rule that battered the land for three centuries. This commission encouraged people to come forward and ‘confess’ their crimes under the protection of amnesty. Victims were invited (for the first time) as well to tell their stories and also witness to victims who never made it, in which case many family members learned how their loved ones died, during the struggle.
Bishop Desmond Tutu holds that this commission was the tool through which God manifested his surprises: While it is right to relate Bishop Tutu’s message of a God of Surprises to the fact that peace now reigns in South Africa, no matter how minute in magnitude, I think the surprises were communicated and are still being communicated in mankind’s ability to accept and forgive.Not only did confessing and or witnessing helped in releasing pain, it also did what no human being thought could have been possible in South Africa. Bishop Tutu said human magnanimity or generosity of spirit makes them do speechless and incredible things.
It was and is a surprise that people who should have been bitter, those who have suffered because of the tribulations, those who ‘had’ a divine right to be angry and fill with the lust for revenge for what was done to them, to come up and tell their stories in the manner these victims did. I think it is an incredible and surprising story which Bishop Desmond Tutu cited, in which a man blinded by oppressor forces testified that he felt cured after speaking out in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Even though this man was still blind, he had a certain heart, to have accepted his condition and forgive the perpetrators, and to claim that under his blind condition his eyes have been given back to him just because he has spoken out (and released his pain). To me this is a man with God’s heart and it is a surprise to have humans act this way under the condition. Also, perpetrators who found it in their hearts to confess and ask for forgiveness in a remorseful manner proves to me that God touched their hearts equally, and this also counts as some of God’s many surprises. Last and most important of all, to have perpetrators seek for forgiveness and victims readily embracing them such that today we have these two ‘groups’ of people living as one people after all the quagmire, is incredible and surprising.
But Tippett asked Bishop Tutu a very important question: “Has reconciliation come to South Africa?” I like the way Bishop Tutu answered this question. He said; “It is a process and a national project for all South Africans.” Reality speaking, South Africa continues to experience violence and inequality. Bishop Tutu says it is only sixteen years since South Africa gained freedom from three centuries of oppression and I see with him. He compared this to Germany after the East and West Germany ordeal that lasted only for fifty years and again I see with him. But despite his assertion that damage of the psyche plays a role in the reconciliation process, I really do think reconciliation is an aspect of life that is so crucial and goes beyond that. As we all know, it is immensely hard if not impossible to regain all of milk that is been spilled. Think of human reconciliation with God since Adam and Eve; Even though Christ came to reconcile God and man as Christians believe, mankind has continued to seek reconciliation with God and I think this is what the process of reconciliation is.
However, no matter what the case may be in South Africa today, I believe it is worth to acknowledge that there is headway to the positive direction if one only considers the fact that Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu was able at last to vote in his own country for the first time, though at the age of sixty three. This is incredible and surprising.
I think Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu’s message is that God is always with mankind and can surprise mankind at any time. So mankind has to think positively at all times no matter what the circumstance is.
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