Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Appears as a contributor in the bestseller 'Me to WE'
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Won the Nobel Prize in 1984 for his role in unifying South Africa during the Apartheid
He was a high school teacher before becoming a Bishop
He best known for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa, for which he received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984

Desmond TuTu's Story

When I was just a small boy, I was sitting in a South African ghetto township, maybe thinking that I didn't count for too much. But I soon learned that each one of us is a glorious original and has the capacity to be God's special partner. At a tender age I discovered that it isn't doing spectacular things that makes you remarkable in the eyes of God, but instead, it is when you light just one candle to dispel a little bit of darkness that you are doing something tremendous. And if, as a global people, we put all the little bits of good together, we will overwhelm the world. In my young life, there were many key individuals and moments that embodied this spirit for me, but three stand out most of all in my mind and I want to share them with you.

As a child I had tuberculosis and went to hospital for nearly two years. During that time, about once a week, Trevor Huddleston, a priest who became a renowned anti-apartheid activist, came to see me. He lived in Sophiatown, as a member of a religious community, and he shared the life of the poor and deprived people. I wasn't aware of it then, but his actions made a strong impression on me. In South Africa it was unusual to see a white person caring for a black township urchin like myself, and his example contributed to a lack of bitterness I felt against whites. Trevor touched my life and I'm so very grateful, because he was just a tremendous champion of goodness and the dispossessed. Through small examples of his humanity he cared for others and for me; he was one of the first strong examples for me of someone working chose little bits of goodness

Now, the next experience was one I shared with many black South African kids. Because of the turbulence in my own country, I was greatly influenced by the heroic struggles of African-American sportspeople, Jackie Robinson especially. I think that I was about nine years of age when I picked up a tattered copy of Ebony magazine that happened to describe how Jackie broke into Major League Baseball to play with the Brooklyn Dodgers. I didn’t know baseball from ping-pong, but I could read, and here was the story of a man who had overcome enormous adversity and suffered tremendous abuse for simply following his dreams.

His example, the way he had made it against all those odds, made me feel several inches taller. He convinced me early on, though he never knew it, that we mustn't aim to do spectacular things -but maybe we will do spectacular things. Instead, Jackie Robinson left the impression that we should do what we can because, in the end, by standing up to that bully, you win a little victory for righteousness and you give just one other person the example to stand up for truth. It may not get a banner headline, but it makes a difference. It made a difference to me.

Above all, however, my greatest mentor through everyday examples of goodness was my mother. And while I have said to many, many people that I resemble her physically (she, too, was stumpy and had a large nose, you see), it has been one of my missions in life also to resemble her in her spirit, in her generosity, and in her concern for others. Our family was of modest means, but my mother was a wonderful cook and she never cooked just enough for our hungry family. She always imagined that there might be somebody who would come to our house and who would need to be fed. This was her way of showing her great heart and empathy for other human beings, through her wonderful cooking! And her generosity extended to far more than food. She almost instinctively had a way of comforting whoever was getting the worst side of an argument, and with good intention my wife aptly called her the Comforter of the Afflicted.

Unlike Trevor Huddleston and Jackie Robinson, my mother was a quiet hero whose greatest achievements were never obvious to the outside world. But through each of them, I have learned to trust in the love and the example of others; that we are made for interdependence. I have also learned that we are made different, capable of our own special miracles, not in order to be separated, but to know of our need for each other. True happiness is not when you are there only for "number one." but when you are there for others. It is a very simple but powerful truth that leadership and greatness emerge when one is able to follow the Lord's words and to, figuratively perhaps, wash the feet of others. Since that day when I was sitting in a South African ghetto township feeling sorry for myself, I have been blessed more each day with the happiness that springs from this truth.

Me to WE
Me to We is a New York Times bestseller that provides a tangible guide to doing good. The book puts forward an approach to life that leads us to recognize what is truly valuable when making decisions, defining our goals and contemplating the legacy we want to leave. It includes contributions by individuals who have followed the Me to We philosophy, including Oprah Winfrey, Queen Noor and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Above all, it creates new ways of measuring happiness, meaning and success in our lives and makes sure these elusive goals are attainable at last.
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