People should embrace diversity, Tutu says

Published April 1, 2000

Primate Michael Peers introduced Archbishop Desmond Tutu before he received the second of his honorary doctorates in two days.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu already has ?honorary degrees enough to paper a cathedral,? in the words of Primate Michael Peers; his February visit to Toronto brought him two more.

Archbishop Peers introduced his old friend before the former primate of southern Africa received a doctor of divinity from Trinity College on Feb. 16. He was conferred with an honorary doctor of laws the day before at the University of Toronto.

Archbishop Peers recalled the impressive televised image of Archbishop Tutu during the days of apartheid when he saved a man from being ?necklaced? ? killed by a burning tire around the neck.

?In the dark days, his detractors accused him of being a politician in a cassock,? Archbishop Peers said. ?Desmond answered that all his people?s politicians were either in prison or silenced, that only the church had a voice and that when those leaders in society had a voice, church leaders would have no need to speak on their behalf.?

Archbishop Tutu thanked Canadians for praying and working for South Africa. ?You prayed as I think no other country has been prayed for,? he said. ?Here we are today, free, free, free, free. People who have never been unfree don?t know what that means.

Archbishop Tutu also paid tribute to Canada?s former primate, Ted Scott, and the current primate, saying ?Sometimes because you have these treasures so close to you, you don?t value them.?

Archbishop Tutu was interrupted by applause and standing ovations several times during his speech on exclusion and inclusion, part of the Romney Moseley memorial lecture series. Dr. Moseley was an associate professor at Trinity College for a short time and was regarded as a global scholar who served the World Council of Churches and the wider Anglican Communion.

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Most conflicts relate to issues of who is ?in? and who is ?out?, Archbishop Tutu told the enthusiastic crowd, offering examples of the Holocaust, Rwanda and Northern Ireland. In times of crisis, such as the transition from repression to democracy in eastern European countries, people are disoriented and ?tend to long for the security and the safety of the familiar, of the similar. What is different tends to fill us with apprehension and we find we have an allergy towards what is different in appearance, in culture, in religion, in thought, in all sorts of ways. It is not surprising, even though so thoroughly reprehensible, that so-called ethnic cleansing happens at such times.?

Instead, people must embrace diversity, Archbishop Tutu implored. ?Jesus declared, ?I, if I be lifted up will draw all to me.? Not just some but all, all are insiders. No one is an outsider, no one is an alien. All, white, black, brown, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, young, old, those with disabilities, and those without, the gay, the lesbian, the straight, all, all belong together in God?s rainbow family.?

If the ethic of family applied in the world, ?We would not spend such obscene amounts in our budgets of death and destruction called defence spending, when a small fraction of those budgets would ensure that our sisters and brothers everywhere would have clean water, enough to eat, adequate health care, a good education, and a secure home environment.

?We would not wonder how to spend budget surpluses as long as members of our family in other parts were starving. We would not let members of our families in so-called Third World countries suffer because of the untolerable burden of unpayable debt. We would support Jubilee 2000 and call for the cancellation of that debt as a moral imperative.?


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