Desmond Tutu Quotes

Desmond Tutu Quotes

Desmond Tutu is a South African Anglican bishop and social activist who played a significant role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Born on October 7, 1931, in Klerksdorp, South Africa, Tutu became the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, and subsequently served as the Archbishop of Johannesburg.

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He gained international recognition for his opposition to apartheid, and played a leading role in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Tutu is also known for his advocacy work in support of human rights, social justice, and peace. In 1984, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end apartheid and promote social justice in South Africa.

Desmond Tutu has been widely recognized for his leadership and commitment to social justice. He is considered one of the most prominent figures in the struggle against apartheid, and his advocacy work has inspired millions around the world. Tutu remains an influential voice in the fight for human rights and social justice, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of activists and advocates.

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He was the author of seven collections of sermons and other writings. From topics of forgiveness to family, here are some of his most profound quotes.

Famous Desmund Tutu Quotes

1. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

2. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

3. “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”

4. “Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.”

5. “My father always used to say, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” Good sense does not always lie with the loudest shouters, nor can we say that a large, unruly crowd is always the best arbiter of what is right.”

6. “We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.”

We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low. - Desmond Tutu

7. “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

8. “Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.”

9. “We learn from history that we don’t learn from history!”

10. “When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.”

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11. “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

12. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

13. “In the end what matters is not how good we are but how good God is. Not how much we love Him but how much He loves us. And God loves us whoever we are, whatever we’ve done or failed to do, whatever we believe or can’t.”

14. “Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter — you are just there in front of the fire. You don’t have to be smart or anything. The fire warms you.”

15. “Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality. Language creates the reality it describes.”

16. “Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone’s back.”

17. “We are made for loving. If we don’t love, we will be like plants without water.”

18. “It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.”

19. “You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

20. “Dear Child of God, I am sorry to say that suffering is not optional.”

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21. “A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships.”

22. “There is nothing more difficult than waking someone who is only pretending to be asleep.”

There is nothing more difficult than waking someone who is only pretending to be asleep. - Desmond Tutu

23. “We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.”

24. “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.”

25. “Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another, and cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.”

26. “If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible. There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.”

27. “We are not responsible for what breaks us, but we can be responsible for what puts us back together again. Naming the hurt is how we begin to repair our broken parts.”

28. “We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.”

29. “Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.”

30. “Though wrong gratifies in the moment, good yields its gifts over a lifetime.”

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31. “You show your humanity by how you see yourself not as apart from others but from your connection to others.”

32. “Do a little bit of good wherever you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”

33. “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

34. “I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.”

35. “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.”

36. “To be neutral in a situation of injustice is to have chosen sides already. It is to support the status quo.”

37. “There is a certain kind of dignity we admire, and to which we aspire, in the person who refuses to meet anger with anger, violence with violence, or hatred with hatred.”

38. “Life is more than breath and a heartbeat; meaning and purpose are the life of life.”

39. “We are always at our best when compassion enables us to recognize the unique pressures and singular stories of the people on the other side of our conflicts.”

40. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

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41. “Renewing a relationship is a creative act. We make a new relationship. It is possible to build a new relationship regardless of the realities of the old relationship.”

42. “If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. - Desmond Tutu

43. “God is not a Christian.”

44. “It is true that when we harm others, we harm ourselves; but it is just as true that when we help others, we also help ourselves.”

45. “I would like to share with you two simple truths: there is nothing that cannot be forgiven, and there is no one un-deserving of forgiveness.”

46. “do not heal in isolation. Connecting with others is how we develop compassion for others and for ourselves.”

47. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality”

48. “To forgive is not just to be altruistic.”

49. “To treat anyone as if they were less than human, less than a brother or a sister, no matter what they have done, is to contravene the very laws of our humanity.”

50. “God is not a diversion.”

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51. “In our own ways, we are all broken. Out of that brokenness, we hurt others. Forgiveness is the journey we take toward healing the broken parts. It is how we become whole again.”

52. “Forgiveness is nothing less than the way we heal the world. We heal the world by healing each and every one of our hearts. The process is simple, but it is not easy.”

53. “Cultivate your forgiveness with your friends, with your family, with strangers, and with yourself. Remind yourself that every person you encounter carries a sorrow and a struggle. Recognize that we all share a fundamental humanity. Model the”

54. “A person is a person because s/he recognizes others as persons.”

55. “True peace must be anchored in justice and an unwavering commitment to universal rights for all humans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin or any other identity attribute.”

56. “When I feel ashamed, it means I feel there isn’t just something wrong with what I’ve done, there is something wrong with who I am. Shame is often a hidden emotion and it can be paralyzing in its power.”

57. “Healing means that our dignity is restored and we are able to move forward in our lives.”

58. “There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom”

59. “My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity especially on the situation in Gaza shames us all. It is almost like the behaviour of the military junta in Burma”

60. “The way to understand any enemy is to realize that, from his perspective, he is not a villain but a hero.”

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61. “My first point seems overwhelmingly simple: that the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong.”

62. “God is not upset that Gandhi was not a Christian, because God is not a Christian! All of God’s children and their different faiths help us to realize the immensity of God.”

63. “We shall be free only together, black and white. We shall survive only together, black and white. We can be human only together, black and white.”

64. “When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum.”

65. “One of the most blasphemous consequences of injustice, especially racist injustice, is that it can make a child of God doubt that he or she is a child of God.”

66. “People are not born hating each other and wishing to cause harm. It is a learned condition.”

People are not born hating each other and wishing to cause harm. It is a learned condition. - Desmond Tutu

67. “This is what healing demands. Behavior that is hurtful, shameful, abusive, or demeaning must be brought into the fierce light of truth, and truth can be brutal.”

68. “in the sentiment of Mahatma Gandhi, when we practice the law of an eye for an eye, we all end up blind.”

69. “Thus to forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest since anger, resentment, and revenge are corrosive of that summum bonum, that greatest good, communal harmony that enhances the humanity and personhood of all in the community.”

70. “order to truly forgive oneself, one must either explicitly or implicitly acknowledge that one’s behavior was wrong and accept responsibility or blame for such behavior.”

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71. “It was relatively easy, we now realize, to categorize countries and nations. You knew who your enemies were and whom you could count on as collaborators and friends. And even more importantly, you had ready-made scapegoats to take the blame when things were going wrong.”

72. “There is a story. . . which is fairly well known, told about when missionaries came to Africa, that they had the Bible and we, the natives, had the land. And then they said, “Let us pray,” and we dutifully shut our eyes. And when we opened them, why, they now had the land and we had the Bible.”

73. “There will be no future unless there is peace. There can be no peace unless there is reconciliation. But there can be no reconciliation before there is forgiveness. And there can be no forgiveness unless people repent.”

74. “It is a remarkable feat to be able to see past the inhumanity of the behavior and recognize the humanity of the person committing the atrocious acts. This is not weakness. This is heroic strength, the noblest strength of the human spirit.”

75. “If you are able to talk about your life and the joys and sorrows you have experienced, if you know your story, you are much more likely to be a skillful parent.”

76. “In each of us, there is an innate ability to create joy out of suffering, to find hope in the most hopeless of situations, and to heal any relationship in need of healing.”

77. “I think it was a communication of the heart. When we kept quiet, our hearts discovered that they were kindred spirits.”

78. “Somewhere deep inside us we seem to know that we are destined for something better than strife.”

79. “But just as we do not forgive for others, we also do not forgive for God.”

80. “We need rituals for all traumas and loss, whether it is betrayal or infidelity or violence or murder. Ritual helps us heal, and ritual helped me heal and become ready to consider the person who murdered Angela, his story, his pain.”

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81. “Peace always comes to those who choose to forgive”

82. “child of God, known by name and whose very hairs are numbered. Praise and adore God and thank him for ever and ever. Amen.”

83. “None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. I am because other people are.”

84. “I would love to know who killed my father. So would my brother.” Her next words stunned me and left me breathless. “We want to forgive them. We want to forgive, but we don’t know who to forgive.”

85. “It is small comfort to a mouse, if an elephant is standing on its tail, to say ‘I am impartial.’ In this instance, you are really supporting the elephant in its cruelty.”

86. “God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.”

87. “forgiveness is not a choice you make for someone else; it is a choice you make for yourself.”

forgiveness is not a choice you make for someone else; it is a choice you make for yourself. - Desmond Tutu

88. “Without forgiveness, there’s no future.”

89. “The quality of human life on our planet is nothing more than the sum total of our daily interactions with one another. Each time we help, and each time we harm, we have a dramatic impact on our world.”

90. “If you are neutral in a situation of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

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91. “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”

92. “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

93. “Only in restoring the web of connection can we find peace. I’m sure it is possible to heal in a mountaintop cave alone, but for most of us the quickest and deepest healing happens in the embrace of others.”

94. “Forgiveness among the members of older generations could open the door to healthy and supportive relationships among younger generations.”

95. “Sometimes we confuse humility with timidity…humility allows us to celebrate the gifts of others but it does not mean you have to deny your own gifts or shrink from using them.”

96. “It is important to tell your story. It is equally important not to get trapped in your story. It is not what happened to us that matters but how what happened hurt us.”

97. “as we say in our African idiom, a person is a person through other persons. To dehumanize another inexorably means that one is dehumanized as well.”

98. “It is not too surprising that, having been involved in a policy as evil and dehumanizing as apartheid.”

99. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.”

100. “When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All”

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