Wednesday, July 4, 2007
What Desmond Tutu Said …
The older I get, the more I learn not to judge a book by its cover. Like many, I rever Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but consider him a boring interview subject, and when you tell me that his interviewer comes in the irritating robes of Brad Pitt, you turn me completely off. But then this is Vanity Fair, and with VF, I read every article. And I am glad for that. Here I take two responses from the interview (in this month’s spectacular – no matter what the critics, who haven't even read it(!), say – Africa Issue) that almost knocked me off with their profundity: they are not novel insights by any means, but what struck me is the force and beauty of the restatements:
Brad Pitt: So certainly, discrimination has no place in Christianity. There’s a big argument going on in America now, on gay rights and equality.
Desmond Tutu: For me, I couldn’t ever keep quiet. I come from a situation where for a very long time people were discriminated against, made to suffer for something about which they could do nothing - their ethnicity. We were made to suffer because we were not white. Then, for a very long time in our church, we didn’t ordain women, and we were pernalizing a huge section of humanity for something about which they could do nothing – their gender. And I’m glad that now the church has changed all that. I’m glad that apartheid has ended. I could not for the part of me be able to keep quiet, because people were being penalized, ostracized, treated as if they were less than human, because of something they could do nothing to change – their sexual orientation. For me, I can’t imagine the Lord that I worship, this Jesus Christ, actually concurring with the persecution of a minority that is already being persecuted… Our church, the Anglican Church, is experiencing a very, very serious crisis. It is all to do with human sexuality,. I think God is weeping. He is weeping that we should be spending so much energy, time, resources on this subject at a time when the world is aching.
Brad Pitt:… You said about apartheid, that is was operated on the principles of exclusion. I can’t help but think that the same thing is going on with our trade rules.
Desmond Tutu: We have the capacity to feed everybody on our planet. We have the capacity to ensure that everybody has clean water. We have the capacity to ensure that everybody has affordable health care. We can prevent many of the diseases to which our children in the poorer parts of the world succumb. For goodness’ sake, why don’t we wake up to the fact that you can’t have an apartheid security? You can’t have apartheid prosperity. If you are going to have security, it’s going to be security for all. If you are going to have prosperity, it is going to be prosperity for all. If you want to be free, you can’t have a quarantine freedom. It’s going to be freedom for all. And if you want to be human, we are not going to be able to be human in isolation; it will be that we are human together. (Emphasis mine)
(c) Vanity Fair