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Conversation with Archbishop Tutu
Archbishop Tutu
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November 9, 2007

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been a tireless voice for justice and racial reconciliation. In 1984, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the struggle against apartheid.

As Thomas Cahill said to Bill Moyers this week:

"I don't think that real civilization ever occurs because of anything that a nation state does. It occurs because of movements within the nation state that are led by sometimes one individual or a series of individuals. Desmond Tutu is an excellent example of that."

In 1999 Archbishop Tutu sat down with Bill Moyers, discussing the draining process of facing his country's past as he chaired the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Tutu explains:

What I did learn were, as with two contrary things, that one was to be overwhelmed by the depth of depravity to which we can sink. That's the one side. And that bowls you over.

But that's not the only truth that comes out because the other thing that the commission revealed is that people are incredible. People are a glorious creation; that just as much as we have the extraordinary capacity for evil, so we have a remarkable capacity for good.

When you listened to people who by rights ought to have been bristling with anger and resentment showing that magnanimity, that willingness to forgive. That's tremendous.

More from Bill Moyers' conversation with Desmond Tutu

Dominique Green, the death row inmate that Thomas Cahill profiles in his upcoming book, was deeply affected by Archbishop Tutu's NO FUTURE WITHOUT FORGIVENESS, as he explains in this interview with a local television station:

When I read the Archbishop's book, he just struck me. Because some of the answers were answers that I sought but I didn't know how to articulate 'em. I didn't know how to find 'em on my own. And he gave 'em all to me in that book. And so, his book had a more profound effect on me because he wasn't just dealin' with the system. He was dealing with the human heart. And it is the heart that actually changed the system in the first place.

Bishop Tutu visited Green on death row the year he died, afterwards calling him a "good advertisement for God." Tutu further explained to Bill Moyers:

We used to tell our people at home, 'It is going to be OK. The victory has already been won.' But in the process of our apprehending this victory, appropriating it, there are going to be causalities. More of our people are going to be detained. More are going to be imprisoned. More are going to be killed. 'But my dear people, we used to say, 'we have already won. They have lost. Those who support injustice have lost.

Published on November 9, 2007

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References and Reading:
"Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu Urge Texas to Stay Execution of Kenneth Foster," August 29th, 2007

"In this live broadcast on January 15, 1986, special guest host Charlayne Hunter-Gault interviewed Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Bishop Tutu was visiting the United States to rally American opposition to the South African system of apartheid."

Man in the News; Advocate of Change
By Alan Cowell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 17, 1984
"Diminutive in stature, but not in other ways, sharp-eyed and outspoken, the 53-year-old cleric, that is to say, is a man with a message that is yearned for."

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Bill Moyers interviews best-selling historian Thomas Cahill in a far ranging interview that takes viewers from the Coliseum in Rome to death row in Texas and examines what our attitudes toward cruelty can tell us about who we are as Americans.

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Bill Moyers sat down with Archbishop Tutu in 1999 discussing his chairmanship of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Watch Tutu's interview in entirety

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