10 Pieces of Wisdom from Desmond Tutu on his Birthday

Today – October 7 – is Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 82nd birthday.? I have the honor of serving on the Board of The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation (DTPF)? whose mission is to help provide tools to create peace within, among and between people. Peace-making or what I call Peace-ing is an ongoing daily practice of attending to our own self and our ever widening webs of relationships that are our families, our communities and the diverse people of the world. Meeting Archbishop Tutu, hearing him speak and teach is an extraordinary experience in witnessing humility, wisdom, courage, humor, trust and love – he embodies fierce grace! In celebrating Tutu’s birthday the gift Tutu surely wants most is for people to work a bit harder on what is the really big idea: creating better people.

So here are ten pieces of wisdom from Tutu – each an expression of the African wisdom tradition of Ubuntu, which says that “a person is only a person in the context of other persons: my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” In other words, we need one another in order to each discover our magnificence and allow it to shine by what we do with our lives.? As Robert Taylor, the wonderful wisdom teacher, author, social justice activist and chairman of DTPF says, ” It is a way of life that acknowledges that every person is of infinite value.

So take a few minutes today and reflect on the wisdom below – have a conversation with a family member, a friend, a co-worker about one message that inspires you. Decide on one thing you can do to apply the wisdom to your life…and share what you have decided to do with The Wisdom Daily community. Be part of the millions of people worldwide celebrating Desmond Tutu’s birthday. Happy Birthday Arch!

  1. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
  2. “My humanity is bound up in yours for we can only be human together. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.”
  3. “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. A person is entitled to a stable community life, and the first of these communities is the family.”
  4. “Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone’s back.”
  5. ?”There is nothing more difficult than waking someone who is only pretending to be asleep.”
  6. ?”Forgiving is not forgetting; it’s actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.”
  7. “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.”
  8. “We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew… Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful… and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.”
  9. “Out of the cacophony of random suffering and chaos that can mark human life, the life artist sees or creates a symphony of meaning and order. A life of wholeness does not depend on what we experience. Wholeness depends on how we experience our lives.”
  10. “We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family.”





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