Of all the presentations being offered at Leading Age, the one I was most looking forward to was Desmond Tutu on Sunday Afternoon. He is 81 years old and has changed the world for the better. He came on the world stage in the 1980s as a powerful voice against apartheid. He won the Nobel Peace Prize (1984).
As an Anglican Church leader his goal was to bridge the gap between whites and blacks. The thing that has made his mission in race relations unique and compelling is his focus on reconciliation between the races. He is currently involved in the worldwide fight to stop the spread of HIV
What He Had to Say
He is a pastor and a preacher, his presentation was perhaps more of a sermon than a traditional keynote speech. He has an infectious laugh and is a compelling story teller. He started his presentation with that difficult question that all religious people and non-believers confront. “Does God really have a plan?” If God is good and omnipotent what is up with natural disasters and man-made horrors? He then turned to the Christian community and asked how can people who all claim to worship the same God be so intolerant of each other? He said “It looks as if Human history is dressed in human blood.” “It is as if God wanted to make it particularly difficult for those who believe in God to justify God.”
“The wonder of a God who loves us is that he says to use “Come be a fellow worker with me, to make this world the kind of world it should be.” “God says, ‘Please help me!’ God has since the beginning of time sought to have us as collaborators . . . as fellow workers.” “God insists on having human partners.” We have the privilege to have a God who says” come be a fellow worker with me. Help me to make this the kind of world it should be; to make this world a caring compassionate world.” Then Tutu brings it home: When the members of LeadingAge reach out and serve seniors . . . “God looks at the members of LeadingAge and says ‘They are vindicating me.’” “It isn’t that success defines us, rather it is that what defines us is being created in the image of God. We are made for caring and for sharing. He closes with this: “The God in me greets the God in you.” Regardless of your spiritual persuasion Tutu inspires us to have a compassionate heart. - Steve Moran