12 thoughts on “A Prayer of Desmond Tutu – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. How do we know love and life are stronger than the forces of evil, darkness, and death? Because the human race is still here and our numbers continue to grow! During WWII, the Nazi’s killed 6 million Jews. But, 3 million Jews survived and the Nazis lost the war. That is because of the goodness of the righteous Gentiles, and the strength of lightness over darkness in the world as a whole. As bad as things look, when you study history, it is clear that we are actually making some progress overall. As bad as the attack on Gaza was last year, it would have been a lot worse if it weren’t for the human rights groups & individuals, in Israel and around the world, watching, marching, raising our voices in protest. Finally, what is my evidence of love over hate & goodness over evil? Desmond Tutu.

    1. As bad as the attack on Gaza was last year, it would have been a lot worse if it weren’t for the…

      Why do I not find that even a little bit reassuring?

  2. Life is indeed complicated. Lawlessness and cruelty are winning in I/P and elsewhere. No Lord has led us into green pastures or still waters as far as I can see. Perhaps I am in too much a hurry.

    Those who pray or otherwise work for I/P peace with justice are, as far as one can see, IGNORING GLOBAL WARMING which, apart from other things, has come upon us because there are so many survivors of the 20th century.

    I have devoted much of my life since 1980 to the I/P issues but doing so without ALSO ADDRESSING GLOBAL WARMING is like “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic”.

    Bishop Tutu, pray for us all!

  3. Richard, thank you for including questions concerning this aspect of things as well. I will have to think about it, but it is one of the reasons why I love your blog.

  4. That is one of those questions….. I used to think that it was like that, good over evil, light over darkness… and most of it, life over death. Over time, I have developed (still in process) a different perspective: It will depend on the viewer, believer, or even further the “doer”.

    Love over Hate, is not an objective afirmation, is not a dogma, much less and axiological imperative. It is a perspective, a commitment. As one of my favorite authors, E. Fromm would call it, it is a matter of ” rational faith”.

    There is no way to probe that goodnes is stronger than evil. But there is also not way to probe the opposite. We can use The Occupation as an example of hate being stronger than evil, but we can also summon the memories of all of those that have lived with nothing but forgiveness and love. I think we can find love, beauty and redemption, or more, try to bring, create or preserve those things even in the most dark and hatefull places and moments… as the opposite. At the end, I believe, is a matter of how we decide to see thinks, and how we act according to that vision in order to turn it into a reality. I believe in eucatastrophe.

    Maybe naive…. I know is the risk. “A deep man believes in miracles” Emerson Said. I agree, a serious man knows how hard and rare they are, and how much of us, mere human beings, is part of them.

    If you have the way to get it, I strongly recommend Gorecky’s Third Symphony ” of sorrows”.

  5. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
    -Martin Luther King Jr.

    Years of hatred, hardwired into minds and hearts and blood, cannot be overcome by inaction. Desmond Tutu’s prayer, albeit profound, is preaching to all believers in man and womankind and to the good in every one of “us”, who believe it. But, I believe this dualism of hate is the real evil. It has sought to separate us from one another. I believe there must many more numbers on either side who would prefer to live and work peacefully, together. A minority, on both sides, prefer to live out on the edge of reality, pushing the extreme agenda, working like zombies, funded by someone who profits. It is a created synthesis , priming everyone for a “doomsday” and/or a “savior”, and at worst, a world dominator. A script. The one-sided media keeps it spinning, exaggerating the numbers gratuitously to whatever “side of the fence” you live on, reinforcing the solidarity by way death and hatred. It’s a dark and gloomy place in the mind, and one has to question why we should believe there could be any good in the world, or why we should have hope.

    To live in Palestine or Israel, one could likely lose the ability to judge without bias by an early age, to the one requisite path you would be destined to walk on this sick treadmill.
    Go “grassroots”. Make a friend with someone outside of your own “comfort zone”, a Palestinian or an Israeli, and hear what someone is truly experiencing. Look for your similarities before looking for your differences. See ALL sides of the argument, there are always more than 2. That is what I believe is hope. It is not 2 sided in reality. That is a created and synthesized situation, for greed, and in the “end” will benefit neither side, leaving no credibility in any faith in a god, or mankind. That is the “evil” we are fighting. It is not imaginary, it has divided us. A scripted separation. If we have to analyze every news article for the real truth, we have lost our faith and misguided by believing we are justified in killing or willing to say we are only innocent victims. If you believe there is someone on the other “side”, that believes in the same peace you want to see, find them, and encourage them to speak out where it counts. Be the light in their darkness. If they are living in the Occupation, they need to believe someone understands and cares on the outside. It is the darkness.
    I believe the onus is on us to give them a little light, a little hope,encourage love, encourage life, encourage independent thought, encourage leadership. Even one friendship, can make a big difference. Each one who teaches another can really make a difference.I can prove it…

    1. Hate is not the only evil in this world. Apathy is evil too.

      I don’t know which makes me more sick: hatred or depraved indifference to human suffering.

      I don’t like to turn to the Holocaust for an example, first and foremost because my primary concern is for the suffering of the living and secondly because I don’t wish to diminish the suffering of anyone by comparing.

      However, in this case, it serves as the best example of what I’m getting at, and so I’ll make an exception to my rule. I applaud Israelis who go to protest side by side with Palestinians in Jerusalem and Bilin and other places, but in my opinion, Israelis should be taking to the streets in the thousands and hundreds of thousands monthly, weekly and whatever it takes to end this occupation, but that’s not what’s happening. Instead they vote for these right wing and ultra-right wing leaders and do nothing at all to stop this!

      While I want to believe in the goodness of all people, I’m reminded of the Germans circa late 1930’s early ’40’s: surrounded by so much suffering, and yet ignorant, apathetic, and carrying on with their petty, superficial, selfish lives and totally deluded about their future as if apathy has no cost or consequence.

      And the strange thing is that this kind of “depraved” indifference seems to afflict the majority, and I wonder: what’s at the bottom of it? Is it racism, disgust, a feeling of superiority, paranoia, or all of these?

      I’ll bet if it weren’t for the Civil War the Confederates would never have loosened their grip on slavery. They feared black emancipation more than civil war. But it was war they should have feared most of all.

      This too, if not stopped, shall end badly. History has proven that injustice is always an unsustainable reality and sooner or later great tragedy will be the outcome.

  6. Ironically, like you, I feel very sad, frustrated and discouraged today. First I read about the comments Chuck Schumer made calling Obama’s pressure on Israel to cease settlement construction counter-productive and stating that “It has to stop.”

    Then, I read about the arrests and all the injuries, a few pretty serious, that occurred today at the hands of the IDF at the weekly Bilin demonstration.

    Then I hear Michael Oren will be the keynote speaker at the Brandeis University commencement.

    So, thankfully, when I visit to your site I see this prayer and in the midst of all this madness I find some hope. There are some days when all this seems overwhelming, and you feel like all you have is a prayer. So maybe it’s just one of those days when a little prayer is all that’s required and tomorrow we can take up this good fight again, because the worst thing we can do is give up.

    It seems the IDF are firing tear gas canisters at people’s heads and two more protesters were sent to the hospital today. We must carry on for those courageous folks who are turning to peaceful protest despite the risks. They need to know they’re not alone and they’re supported in some way by us in different parts of the world so their despair doesn’t turn back towards violent resistance.

    They’re so much worse off than us. We’ll beat down this evil occupation one dent at a time…with the truth.

    I’m glad I stopped by!

  7. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. -Martin Luther King Jr.

    My own belief is that no-one human can BECOME an oppressor and REMAIN an oppressor WITHOUT DEVELOPING A BELIEF that the “other” IS EVIL. Once this belief is in place, anything becomes possible (even things we would not, generally, do to animals). Perhaps this is part of “projection” or some such.

    That is how the Israeli public (and the USA public w.r.t. Iraq and Afghanistan and Vietnam) can be comfortable knowing all that is going on.

    [But, just in case this doesn’t work, the USA military tries to keep the media away from the worst.] [And the large incidence of mental problems by USA soldiers may show that they are not mentally reconciled to doing what they are doing, although it may merely show that they cannot deal with the fear.]

  8. Before I tell you what I believe in, let me tell you what I do not believe in.

    I do not believe in the inherent goodness of mankind.
    I do not believe in the collective wisdom of mankind.

    I do not believe that Goodness is stronger than evil. It looses much more often than it wins. Still I believe goodness is better than evil.
    I do not believe that love is stronger than hate. More often, hate prevails. Yet I believe love is better than hate.
    I do not believe that light is stronger than darkness. Enlightenment is a lot less common than ignorance and bigotry. Yet I think light is better than darkness.
    I do not believe life is stronger than death. Chaos and destruction have always been a lot easier and more appealing for most of us than organization and harmony. Yet I believe life is better than death.

    Above all I believe in divine power, endowing us with the conscience to like and respect goodness, love, light and life, despite their most obvious material inferiority and weakness in the face of their evil counterparts in this world.

    To me, life is a journey on a train. One has rarely any chance to – knowingly – change the course of things. All he or she can do is believe in the right thing, and try to do the right thing.

    Yes, believe and try to do good. The thought of having any significant control over outcomes is a delusion.

    Goals are not achievable because of what we do. But we feel better when we try.

    It is all about how we feel about things, and how much we try our best to do what we think is the right thing, no matter how unlikely the ultimate success is.

    In a twisted way, the real strength of things like goodness, love, light and life may be in exactly that: captivating moral authority with very little material power behind it


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