PEGGY DULANY: Good afternoon. Good afternoon. My name is Peggy Dulany and it's a pleasure, of course, to welcome Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but to welcome all of you to the David Morse lecture, which is sponsored by David Morse's family and friends for which we're very grateful.
This is billed as a lecture, but I don't know whether they felt that the archbishop was uncontrollable or what, but they've organized it as a discussion. So there will be no lecture.
REVEREND DESMOND TUTU: I'm upset.
DULANY: But I'm convinced you can outmaneuver me any day.
This session of the council is for the record, and we're going to have a discussion between the archbishop and myself for a few minutes and then bring in the membership.
So the first question that I wanted to address to you, Archbishop, is in these difficult times -- and probably there's no one here who would disagree that these are difficult times. When we're at meetings of the council we tend to think politically or as activists or as business people, but it's not too often that we have the opportunity to have a conversation with a spiritual leader from a spiritual perspective in terms of how you view what is happening in the world. And I wonder if you could comment on that.
TUTU: Thank you very much, Peggy.
It's wonderful to be here and see many friends.
I wondered whether -- did you have a security search? Make sure that nobody has tomatoes or things in their pockets?
It's wonderful actually to think -- I've been coming to this country quite a bit, and in many ways, you know, I have been very taken by the fact that in quite a few of my addresses, I speak about transcendence, I speak about goodness. I speak about -- and was expecting to some extent that because -- well, yeah, you're supposed to be very worldly, very, very competitive, very materialistic, that people would walk out of my addresses.
Well, there was a part of me that was surprised that people were lapping this up, but I'm not very smart as most of my friends will know. I don't do very many things. But I said, there's a part of me that's surprised by that. But there is a part that is not surprised because it is one of the most wonderful demonstrations about who we are.
You know that we are -- we're at an incredible paradox. You know, we are finite creatures who, by rights, out to be satisfied by finite goals, achievements. And we almost always come a cropper when we think we're going to find this satisfaction in material possessions or in sex, in drugs, or whatever, and we're constantly being in a way disillusioned because -- and this is the fantastic thing! The wonder of each one of us is that, in fact, we are created for the infinite.
I mean, that's wonderful! I mean, that's really incredible that we have -- some people have said as you probably know, you remember someone who said, we each have a God-shaped space in us and only God can fill that space. Even when you came to be atheist.
There's an African saint, great saint, he's got us in a mess, in part, I mean this whole thing about dichotomies.
Augustine got us because he couldn't control his sex for a long time and got -- well, let's not go that way. (Laughter.)
The wonderful thing that Augustine said, it's a beautiful piece that some of you might know. Speaking about God and ourselves, Augustine put it in a lovely sort of dictum. I have a friend in the room who is quite wonderful about these dictum. She says, anything that has happened is possible. (Laughter.)
Isn't that beautiful? Anything that has happened is possible, but now I'm not speaking about Peggy just now. Augustine says, "Thou hast made us for thyself," meaning God, "and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee."
Can you believe this, anything less than God -- try as hard as you wish -- will never give you this contentment. And so one can quite understand why when I speak and I speak about transcendence and I speak about beauty. I speak about compassion, people don't say, "Now, that's really lousy," and they begin to walk out.
No, they fasten on to it. And that's part of the glory of being human.
DULANY: So what you're saying is that if people are feeling helpless, which I think a lot of us are, in the face of such enormous problems, that transcendence, faith, is one of the ways that we can know how to -- how to act?
TUTU: Well, yes and no. You know, sometimes one wishes God had made things as simple and -- slightly more straightforward. (Laughter.) But, I mean -- because, I mean, you -- we would have wanted it all neat, that the goodies always gets the best results, and the baddies must always bite the dust.
But -- (inaudible) -- I mean, sometimes God actually makes it incredibly difficult for those that believe in God to be able to say, well, the state of the world shows that there is a good God. The state of the world mostly shows that there can't be a good God or this God is -- I mean, how do you explain Darfur? Or even more, I mean, natural disaster -- Haiti, Chile, the Middle East, Zimbabwe? God, for goodness' sake, what are you up to?
(Laughter.) Look here, God, I mean, we are trying to get people to believe in you. Why couldn't you make it up that -- (laughter) -- why couldn't you work it out?
I mean, it's simple, God, man. (Laughter.) Why couldn't you provide enough water for everybody? Why should there be a flood over here and a drought there? Why should there be surplus here, so that they throw the surpluses into the sea?
God, please, I'm on your side. God, I mean, just explain why. It's an incredible thing. Why do the baddies appear to succeed? Well, again, I mean, we have an incredible God.
Imagine if, as many of us sometimes might wish, supposing there's a baby. She's falling out of the third-floor window of the building. God, intervene. Intervene please, God. And God were to intervene, and wow.
Well, let's suspend the laws of gravity -- (inaudible) -- baby hurtling down to the ground and possibly smashing her head and dying.
God says, yes, okay, and the baby doesn't go down because the law of gravity has been suspended for that baby. Now, that's lovely for the baby and her family. But what about the rest of us, I mean, because the baby will start floating in the air. But it would end up not being a universe, it would end up being a chaos.
But even more incredibly, just explain how come you allow a holocaust? How come you allow a genocide? How come you allow ethnic cleansing?
And God says, you see, when I created you, I gave you a fantastic gift, gave you the gift of freedom. I gave you an autonomy that is real, even though it is a creaturely autonomy.
And so we have an omnipotent God, an all-loving God who -- when you, when I make a decision, if God were to intervene each time, I was going to make a wrong decision, then God is nullifying the gift that God has given.
And so God says, "No, I gave you that gift." And He's for real. If you use it to make a wrong choice -- (pause) -- I don't know, maybe you are fortunate parents, but do you -- have you sometimes been in the situation where you see your child making or going to make a wrong choice? And there's not a great deal that you can do. (Pause.) You've done everything in bringing up the child. You've hoped that they would always make the right choices. (Chuckles.) They don't. And you end up being impotent.
Well, that's an analogy for God. God looks -- and Hitler made his decision and he's supported by the so-called German Christians, and God looks and God does what most parents would do in that situation: You weep, you weep. You wait.
Now, most of us would have hoped that God would zap -- "I mean, God, can't you just send a lightning bolt and just -- (inaudible) -- out?"
No. God waits. God waits. God waits impotently for those who are going to be God's collaborators.
DULANY: So can we come back to the collaborators? You have in the past not been shy about speaking out when you have opinions. And I thought it would be interesting for this audience to hear, if you were sitting down with President Obama and talking about issues like the Middle East or Iraq or Afghanistan, as one of the collaborators, what advice would you be giving?
TUTU: (Yeah ?). (Laughter.) I think, I mean, that your country, I would say, has not been an honest broker, or it has not been perceived by most as being even-handed.
DULANY: Regardless of who was president?
TUTU: What's that?
DULANY: Regardless of who was president?
TUTU: Yeah, I think. It's been -- it's been amazing, actually, that you have been accepted as a -- whatever, what do you call you -- I mean the honest broker.
I think, I mean, that where you were to say -- (pause) -- there are certain conditions, there are certain things that are universally right, and -- the right to life.
When I met with the leadership of Hamas, I was saying to them, the Israeli attacks on civilian targets is a gross violation of human rights. And whilst they were (seething ?) I said, and you see, Mr. Haniyeh, Mr. Prime Minister, shooting rockets into Sderot, targeting civilian populations is equally a gross violation of rights.
And I have, myself, I would say to your president, I still do not believe that so-called ordinary Israelis, if they knew what was happening in Gaza, would support a government policy that did that. And it's in the interest of everybody that the situation is resolved because I have to say, I mean, that you are not likely to have normal relations with the Muslim world. That's one.
You are not likely to be able to speak in a way that is credible on nuclear disarmament with Iran until that situation -- and I think you do have a chance.
But I have always felt, I mean, that the West -- the West has a deep guilt about the Holocaust. This is right. It is right. They should have behaved differently. I mean, when we're told what Hitler was doing, they should -- they should have stepped in long ago, I mean, much, much quicker than they did.
But what is happening is the price for their non-action then that's led to their guilt has been paid not by them, been paid by the Palestinians. And that's (a need to resolve ?) thing.
What is -- what is going to happen is, you are going to -- especially the younger -- I mean, the younger Palestinians are going to be increasingly bitter, and they are not going to be a very good counterpart, if you will, with whom you will resolve -- so, Mr. President -- oh, I'd -- I will probably tell him too something that I heard from a German ambassador because -- maybe some of you will know that I was part of a fact-finding mission to Beit Hanoun, where Israeli shells killed 19 people, 18 members of the same family.
And I -- we were being briefed, and this German ambassador said, you know, Germany is guilty of two wrongs -- grave wrongs: the Holocaust, and now the suffering of the Palestinians.
It would be an incredible act of -- well, yes, I think courage -- of course, it's not easy in the United States, as you know -- I mean, each time you try to speak on this issue and you speak about human rights and so on, almost always you are shut up by -- or attempt to shut you up by being accused of being anti-Semitic, which is -- which is a pity.
But, I mean, you know, it's wonderful when you go to Israel and you see the number of -- especially young people who are feeling, I mean, that this is not something right.
Some of you might know about Bi'lin where they have demonstrations every Friday and the lawyers will support the demonstrators, they're young, bright, Israeli lawyers. It makes you feel good about human beings. (Scattered applause.)
DULANY: Let me ask you one more question, Archbishop, before we open things to the audience, which is -- I know you're part of a group called the Elders that not everybody may know a lot about.
DULANY: Can you say a little bit about -- for example, was your visit to the Middle East connected with that?
DULANY: Has it acted as a group? And do you think that there is a role in today's world for a group of distinguished elders to play a non-formal peacekeeping role?
TUTU: Yes. This is a group of people who were invited by Nelson Mandela in -- (inaudible) -- really the initiative was from Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel. They were saying, we live now in a global village. In the traditional village, you have a group called the Elders who are supposed to be wise. (Laughter.) But don't be so cynical, I mean wise. (Laughs.) And who no longer are looking for kudos.
You know, I mean, they've made it in the world. They are not looking for -- they're not running for office or anything like that. So if people who -- yeah -- and so you have President Jimmy Carter and you have Kofi Annan. You have Mary Robinson. You have most recently Martti Ahtisaari. You have former President of Brazil Cardoso. You have Ela Bhatt from India. You have Gro Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway. You have Lakhdar Brahimi, who was the foreign minister of Algeria, but also a special representative of the U.N. secretary-general in Afghanistan and Lebanon.
DULANY: And is it correct that you act sometimes in twos and threes, sometimes on your own around crises in the world?
TUTU: We -- I mean, it's almost all of those people who have a long agenda of their own. And -- but yes, we act together. I mean, for instance, on Zimbabwe, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Graca Machel went to highlight the plight of the people there.
DULANY: Or tried to go, right? Weren't they turned away?
TUTU: They were turned away trying to get in. But they were able to get people to come to them in Johannesburg.
We've also gone to Cyprus, because we're trying to encourage the two communal leaders, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot. We say, you won't get a better chance of the reunification of that island.
And although it wasn't a particularly -- I mean, it wasn't part of our agenda as Elders, after the elections in Kenya, I was invited and I went. But then Kofi came and did a superb job of work. But you know, they're also with Graca, who is the other Elder.
The first place we went to was the Sudan. We were seeking to highlight the plight of the IDPs in Darfur.
DULANY: Sorry, what's IDP?
TUTU: Internally displaced persons.
And we used the fact that President Carter has a very long relationship with the president of the Sudan, because his center has worked there in the health sphere.
We, but where we've also gone as the Elders is the Middle East.
We have met with the president. We didn't meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu; he was away at the time when we went. And -- I mean, we've gone, we been to Gaza and the West Bank.
DULANY: And do you feel that its been, it's had an impact?
TUTU: I would hope so. I would hope so. I would hope that, I mean, people might get to listen because we have no particular axe to grind.
TUTU: I mean, we write to heads of state about Sri Lanka, for instance, and we tried to persuade governments to help the peacekeeping force in the Sudan. They were very poorly equipped, I mean, I think they had very, very few helicopters and things of that sort.
DULANY: So let me just turn it over, if you don't mind, to the membership here, who I'm sure is dying to have questions.
TUTU: If I did? (Laughter.)
DULANY: If you did what?
TUTU: Well, you said if I don't mind, and -- (laughter) --
DULANY: Oh, yes. (Laughter, cheers.) Yeah, well, then -- so then --
TUTU: No, no. I'm just being --
TUTU: I love you. (Laughter.)
DULANY: Okay, nice save. (Laughs.)
Thank you. So -- oh, my goodness, we've got lots of hands here. So let me start with Cora.
And please state your name and affiliation when you ask your question, and please also make it a question, and keep it to one question.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Thank you for your -- I'm Cora Weiss from Hague Appeal for Peace. Thank you for your advice to God and our president. (Laughter.)
TUTU: (Laughs.) Yes.
QUESTIONER: Thank you for your laughter. (Applause.)
QUESTIONER: Today, as you know, is International Women's Day, which started in 1910 as a celebration or a demand for gender-centered issues, but joining peace.
QUESTIONER: And I wondered if you could give us some advice, also, what you think about the participation of women -- of peace-centered women in decision-making for the world and for the Council on Foreign Relations. (Laughter.)
TUTU: Yes. I have, for a long time, said the world needs a revolution led by women. You -- all of you make sure that I have security. (Laughter.)
DULANY: I don't think you'll need it from the women.
TUTU: I don't -- I don't like the looks that I've been getting from the men. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)
But no, quite seriously -- actually, it is serious. Led by women who are feminine, not women who think that in order to make it, they have to ape men. Bringing -- bringing feminine attributes. The world needs the feminine attributes of affirming. I mean, women -- you have genes that say -- I mean, you bring to birth, you nurture. You -- yes, you affirm.
I mean, I have to tell you just about myself, to let you into a state secret. Men are, of God's creatures, the most insecure.
Can I go to the loo? (Laughter.)
DULANY: (Laughing.) No, you have to answer another question.
TUTU: No, no, I mean because this is actually quite serious.
And I was -- I was just going to tell you about myself.
I can still understand, why me? I -- you know, I mean, I can -- I can, say, give an address and even get a standing ovation for it. But until Leah says to me, that was not too bad, I have to tell you, I go through hell. I sit there feeling awful until she indicates that she has approved and I have not -- have not disgraced the family. (Laughter.)
Now, that is one of your greatest attributes.
DULANY: But Archbishop, I would venture to say that the reason you get the standing ovation is that your masculine and feminine inside you is in balance. So you represent a model of what could be.
TUTU: Well, yeah, but I mean, you know the things that we've done to distort our humility. Big boys don't cry. Big boys don't cry. And I think, I mean, we are still very atavistic; that it is -- I mean, society has -- are you looking at me with love in your eyes? (Laughter.)
No, but I mean, we have been formed. And part of that formation is, you've got to be macho.
You've got to achieve, you've got to be aggressive. You've got to -- and it's really marked us up. It's really marked us up and the things that we then get to do. I mean really speak about women's participation. In Liberia, I think you know that at one time they were having very great difficulties in the negotiations for peace and the women, Christians, Muslims, whatever, decided that they -- there's a film about it. What is that?
DULANY: Pray The Devil Back to Hell.
TUTU: Pray The Devil Back to Hell, which is a marvelous movie about the role of women. But I am actually quite serious about, I mean, if we got feminine women, I mean, women who are not scared of being women and say they are bringing the attributes that God has given then into play. Our world has suffered far too much from the aggressive, the macho and we probably ought to step aside, and give you a chance.
DULANY: Thank you.
I'm going to take one question here and one there. And then we'll move further back.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Peggy Hicks with Human Rights Watch.
Bishop Tutu, many of us were very optimistic that South Africa would be able to use its moral authority following apartheid, to make a real difference in human rights globally. And unfortunately we haven't seen that, as we've discussed with you. And you've been a great supporter of some of our work at the Human Rights Council, where South Africa has played a retrograde role and for example pushed back on the idea of having a Darfur mission and work there.
Right now the Human Rights Council is meeting. And there's consideration of having new mandates on Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo. And we're all sort of looking to South Africa now under new leadership and wondering what to expect and whether or not we might start to see that sort of moral authority in support of human rights that we were hoping for.
And if not, if you could, advise us how to -- how to push for that type of change.
TUTU: Yes, thank you very much.
I mean, it's been a great sadness for many of us, I mean, especially at a time when South Africa had the chair of the Security Council. I mean, I asked then-President Mbeki, you know, when they voted against an innocuous resolution about Burma.
I said, now, can you kindly point out to me something that I don't -- I couldn't see? If you were against the resolution -- and I still can't understand why you were -- you could have abstained. (Chuckles.) I mean, voting -- I mean, they voted with China and Russia, and -- I mean, using the argument that the subject matter actually did not belong on the agenda of the Security Council but on the agenda of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
And I said, "Hey. Hey. Do you remember about us? Do you remember" -- I mean, if they had used that argument about apartheid, we probably would still be sitting with the shackles of apartheid around our ankles. I mean, it's -- I just want -- I mean, I want to apologize. I want to apologize to the world, the world that helped us to become free, a world that thought, I mean, that there would be no argument -- I mean, South Africa would always be on the side of the angels.
I mean, look at the thing that we did with the Dalai Lama. I mean, the Dalai Lama was supposed to be coming to a meeting, a peace meeting in South Africa. And -- (chuckles) -- China flexed its muscles and they say, no, the Dalai Lama can't come now.
And so some of us said, well, we are not going to go to a peace meeting where we have -- we have behaved contrary, contrary to our own history. And perhaps now we might begin to see a slight shift, I don't know. But we have been ashamed. We have been ashamed that we've betrayed our own history.
DULANY: Can I move to another question?
TUTU: You're the chairman. (Laughter.)
DULANY: I'm moving to another question. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: Ralph Bouton, New York University. Bishop Tutu, in the New York Times yesterday you were quoted as being very critical of the condition within South Africa, and you said this is the most unequal society in the world and things that were once possible are moving away.
After fifteen years of majority rule, why is that so?
TUTU: If I was going to be nasty, I would say, I mean -- (laughs) -- that -- (inaudible) -- showed that this was also one of the most unequal societies after how many, 300 and something years, how is it so? No. But I -- I mean -- (laughter) -- I will not -- no, no, I'm not doing that. I say I could. (Laughter.)
But I -- I mean, I think it is -- it is a very serious question. It is a serious question.
And it is one where you hurt, you really hurt, because, you know, I mean -- you're constantly trying to say to people at home, you know, we were not in the struggle just to change the complexion of the people who are in offices in the U.N. building. We were speaking about a new kind of society. We are talking about a society that was caring, compassionate. We didn't believe that everybody was going to be prosperous, but that everybody should feel proud of being South African, you know.
And what we have seen -- what we have seen -- I mean, there are good things that have happened. There are good things, I mean, and we shouldn't -- but what we've seen is that some of the things that we used to condemn in the apartheid dispensation -- (laughs) -- that they are happening. And they are democracy. That people actually are corrupt.
You know, we -- during the struggle, I think, I mean almost everybody would concur that people were incredibly idealistic. People were altruistic. I mean, nobody -- very few people were in the struggle -- I mean, if you asked them -- if you said to them, "You know, they may kill you," people would say -- even -- (cell phone rings) -- I'm sorry, I should -- (laughter). (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
DULANY: It broke. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: (Off mike.)
TUTU: (Yeah, it was weakling ?). (Inaudible.)
People were generally altruistic. We were -- (chuckles) -- naive, because we imagined that that idealism, the altruism would transfer automatically into the post-apartheid era. What we hadn't -- (pause) -- got into our noggins is original sin -- (laughs) -- original sin actually knows no racial discrimination. (Laughter.) I mean, that -- yeah. People are people, and people are tempted, and people succumb to temptation.
It still doesn't -- I mean, you know -- I mean, come into Cape Town and you look and you see those hovels. Now fifteen years down the line, I think people lived in shacks before the election, they live in shacks after the election. And for me, I mean, one of the -- I -- yes, I break down easily, you know. And I was taken to a rural area where -- the nature reserve, I mean they are very smart.
They've decided, I mean, that the best way of ensuring that you don't get poachers is to have the community have a stake in the reserve, and they've done that.
One of the things was, they took us to show us some of the schools where they are in improving facilities. And we go into a school, and you know -- (chuckles) -- that there were children who were holding classes under trees. And then we went into the library of the school. They didn't have desks. They had benches.
Now when I went to high school for the first time, in 1945, our school did not have enough accommodation, and so we were parceled out into churches and so on, and I remember so distinctly we were in a church building just like this, something like this, and you had four classes, one in that corner and another in that corner and one in this corner. And sometimes you didn't listen to your teacher because that other teacher was far more interesting. (Laughter.) But we didn't have desks. The church had benches. We sat on the benches when the teacher spoke, and then to write we knelt behind the benches and used the bench top as our desktop.
I go in now to the school. It's something like maybe 60 years later. And I find a school where they don't have desks, so reminiscent of -- (chuckles) -- what I had experienced under the apartheid, and I couldn't take it. I, as -- I just broke down and said -- I mean, we -- there's a part that makes you sad.
There's a part that makes you very proud. I mean, there are -- well, we can boast that we have one of the greatest men in the world in Nelson Mandela.
But we can also boast -- you know, sometimes you read "Race riots," and you say, "It must be -- it must be South Africa." And you read the story and you discover no, they're talking about Manchester in England.
That we have extraordinary -- we have a stability that you wouldn't have expected we would have. I mean, the result -- it's not to say racism has disappeared. It's not disappeared in this country, after all of these many years. But there is -- you know, I live -- and we live next to a school that used to be a whites' high school, and I still can't get over the fact that, I mean, when they have a break, and you're looking at the kids who are playing on the school playgrounds, and you see the demography of South Africa, you see -- you sit there and you say: It is happening.
It is happening.
DULANY: I'm exercising my chairmanship to try to get one more question in. (Chuckles.)
TUTU: Oh, the time -- oh. Yeah.
DULANY: Question in the back there.
QUESTIONER: Archbishop, thank you so much for gracing us with your presence. I'm Laurie Garrett. I'm here at the council, and I run the Global Health Program. So I need to ask you about another thing I know you consider a disgrace. South Africa has the majority of the world's HIV cases. You have about 25 percent of your young adults infected out in KwaZulu-Natal; more than half of young women infected. And you have a president whose behavior is the opposite of the message you would like to be giving to the young men of the country right now.
To get past the obvious, I want to ask you, as a religious leader, what is missing in the heart and soul of these men? What is the hole that explains why South Africa has the highest rape rate in the world and why so many young men there think young women are disposable?
TUTU: Yeah. Well, I would -- I would -- I would answer you by weeping, you know, and just saying, well, yeah. But -- I mean, apropos of the president, let's at least be thankful that now we don't have a president denying that AIDS -- HIV causes that, yeah.
Let's at least be thankful that now we don't have a president denying that AIDS, HIV causes that, yeah. So be thankful for all the nurses you can get and I mean, he's been very vocal about all of that and about the campaign, the campaign that they've -- but -- yeah. His own conduct and that of so many others is distressing.
Fortunately, in a way, I mean, one is that two of the major churches, church leaders have, I think, in the last week come out very, very strongly in condemnation of the president's conduct and organizations like CARE and so forth. Though yeah, it's small comfort.
I also think, I mean, that, you know, when you seem not to be able to influence your environment positively, you know, the kind of thing where if the boss roughed you up, you kick the cat.
I mean, we have -- we have things at home that are totally, totally un-African. For grown-up men to rape infants, partly it is that there is -- there is this myth. If you have sex with a virgin, when you have HIV, you will be cured.
And so well, I mean, when are you quite sure that this woman is a virgin? Well, a baby, but yeah, I mean, we've sometimes asked, what happened to our -- what happened that we can -- we can -- we can sink so low?
But you see -- (inaudible) -- actually do a great deal with the kind of models that we have. You know, men must shape this environment. They must run the show. And when people are impotent, you can't run the show.
You still want to pretend that you are macho. So you look for the more vulnerable, and you -- (inaudible) -- them.
Full stop. There. Done.
DULANY: So one of the things that this culture prides itself on is ending on time, and I see by the clock up there, if it's right, that it is 2:00. (Applause.) I'm sure you'll join me in thanking the archbishop.
TUTU: (Laughs.) Thank you.
DULANY: Thanks so much.