|Archbishop Tutu gets smunched by me in 1990|
moral character, never missing a chance to appeal to the highest nature of his opponents in the Nazi-like regime of the apartheid government in South Africa. He taught us that there is always a way to turn violence and retribution into peace and forgiveness.
I feel so honored to have been part of several projects with South Africa and another of its great men, Archbishop Desmond Tutu! I met him in 1987 when one of my sculptures was presented to him at the United Methodist Global Gathering. (He became a friend of the Montana Logging and Ballet Co., wrote the liner notes on our first album, and we did several projects together over the years.) He was the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that brilliantly used forgiveness to birth the new nation of South Africa.
Both of these men– with the help of countless others, many of whom lost their lives in the struggle– liberated their people and gave the world its most liberal national constitution, even recognizing the rights of gays and lesbians. Mandela (who was opposed by the US government and ratted out to the apartheid thugs, I am crushed to say, by our own CIA in 1962!) will only grow as a legend with time. He provides an example of how truly monumental any of us can be in difficult circumstances, a reminder that our values are what we do, not what we believe. We have seen religious saints before, (I believe Tutu is one!) but secular saints like Mandela– who are motivated by goodness and truth alone– are indeed rare. And we can claim to have lived during his time! We are indeed blessed. May we take courage and live in the shadow of his example.