Desmond Tutu, who died the day after Christmas this past year, was known around the world as a champion of human rights. In 1984, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his strong advocacy for justice. Ten years later, in 1994, he was appointed to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate violations of human rights in South Africa’s apartheid system. The linking of those two words, “truth” and “reconciliation,” is not arbitrary. There can be no genuine reconciliation until reality has been faced, until undeniable actions and events have been acknowledged. Many of us would prefer to avoid, skip over, or deny the unpleasant truth. We want peace without acknowledging the wrong that has been done, whether by ourselves or by others. Desmond Tutu understood that it is only by laying bare the truth of wrongs and injustices that we can have a firm and lasting foundation for reconciliation and peace.
By Delores Dufner, OSB