Desmond Tutu: Enabled by technology, young people are righting our wrongs

Archbishop Desmond Tutu sends a powerful message of peace to Coventry to launch RISING Global Peace Forum.

Hello Coventry. I send you warm greetings from home, from the foot of the mother continent, where our common ancestors first walked. They walked and they walked, so far and across so many years that when they next saw each other they failed to recognise their own sisters and brothers.

Let’s begin by saying thank you all so very much for the work you do inspiring peace and reconciliation in our global village. Thank you in particular to the organisers of RISING 15, Coventry University and its Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry City Council and Coventry Cathedral, for identifying the necessity to face up to the challenges to peace of our times.

Sometimes, when we watch the evening news and consume our daily diet of stories of intense violence, extremist and anti-social behaviour, we question our abilities to stop our collective plummet into the abyss. It may be true that, on our own, we can make but a relatively modest difference, something to which we should all aspire daily.

But consider our power when we act together for common goals, when we view our diversity not as a threat but as the strength it is. The good news is that we were made for collectivism, for inter-dependence and common purpose. It doesn’t matter how we look, where we live, or to which religion we subscribe, we are ultimately members of one family, the human family, God’s family.

Although many are they who over the centuries have sought to rationalise injustice, by claiming the backing of a vengeful or partisan God, I’ve yet to come across any religion that does not truly espouse peace, love and justice. As members of the human family we are born for goodness, no baby is born hating anyone or with ingrained prejudices besides what they are willing to eat. We teach our children to discriminate, we teach them to be racist and sexist, and we teach them to be greedy, to step on others where necessary to attain material advantage for themselves.

Learned behaviour can be unlearned, it begins with our taking responsibility ourselves, in our homes, our neighbourhoods and communities, our clubs and societies, our organisations and companies and eventually our public policies and practices.

On evenings when I don’t switch on the evening news, I tend to go to bed filled with hope, largely due to the young people I meet who seem to be seized with the task of righting the imbalances caused by us oldies. In my youth we were told good children should be seen but not heard, these days enabled by technology young people are connected to networks of friends around the world. Thankfully they have no qualms about shouting out about injustice.

I thank God for the likes of you, active young citizens who will save God’s world that we’ve brought to the very brink of destruction. God bless RISING 15, God bless Coventry and God bless you!

View all items