I’m immensely grateful to this extraordinary, beautiful and wise person who had the greatest depth of humanity and love.
In great measure, his insights helped me orient my career in human rights advocacy and education from a life-changing and profoundly healing morning I spent with him. As he said to me at the end of our chat:
‘I have, in the latter part of my life, been surprised that although I have experienced or seen people who have experienced very considerable suffering, that I go away not as one filled with despondency but filled with a great deal of hope.
‘Hope that people are in fact fundamentally good, and even a hard, cynical world, amazingly is attracted by goodness and compassion… We don’t talk in the same almost hushed reverential tones of a big tycoon or a military powerful figure as we do of the Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela.
‘We do in fact seem to have an instinct for goodness and that may be due perhaps to my faith, but it is also due to the people I have encountered who have nurtured my belief in human beings. Human beings are fundamentally good.’
Excerpt from interview with Desmond Tutu in Sydney on 1 December 1999, from my book Homosexual Rights as Human Rights: Activism in Indonesia, Singapore and Australia.