If You Are Serious About A Peaceful Future
Quote: Desmond Tutu

Posted on 16 November 2015

“He had many wounds.” She spoke with the precision of a coroner. “In the upper abdomen were five wounds. These wounds indicated that different weapons were used to stab him, or a group of people stabbed him.” Mrs Mhlawuli continued her harrowing testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She spoke about the disappearance and murder of her husband, Sicelo. “In the lower part, he also had wounds. In total, there were forty-three. They poured acid on his face. They chopped off his right hand just below the wrist. I don’t know what they did with that hand.” A wave of horror and nausea rose in me.

Now it was nineteen-year-old Babalwa’s turn to speak. She was eight when her father died. Her brother was only three. She described the grief, police harassment, and hardship in the years since her father’s death. And then she said, “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.”

There are days when I wish I could erase from my mind all the horrors I have witnessed. It seems there is no end to the creative ways we humans can find to hurt each other, and no end to the reasons we feel justified in doing so. There is also no end to the human capacity for healing. 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.

I would like to share with you two simple truths: there is nothing that cannot be forgiven, and there is no one undeserving of forgiveness. When you can see and understand that we are all bound to one another—whether by birth, by circumstance, or simply by our shared humanity—then you will know this to be true. I have often said that in South Africa there would have been no future without forgiveness. Our rage and our quest for revenge would have been our destruction. This is as true for us individually as it is for us globally.

~Desmond Tutu, The Book of Forgiving


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