Tag Archive: torture

I have just finished reading the biography of Archbishop Desmond Tutu from  South Africa and this paragraph from right at the end of the book stood out powerfully for me. The idea that it is both those who commit violence and attrocity and those who are the victims of it who suffer as a result of it. Both are in need of great help:

tutuIf Tutu’s lifelong advocacy of justice was difficult, demanding, and contentious, then his vision for how to bring about reconciliation was surely more so. In his formulation, ubuntu-botho equips you to look at your torturers, to realise that they need your help and to stand ready to enable them to regain their humanity. Such a philosophy scandalizes the world. Yet, extraordinarily, it empowers the survivors of torture, for it enables them to take control of their lives, to take initiatives instead of remaining trapped in victimhood, waiting helplessly for the perpetrators to act. Thus ubuntu-botho gives contemporary, practical meaning to God’s forgiveness of the people of Israel recorded by the prophet Hosea, and to Christ’s words from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” [Hosea 11.1-9, Luke 23.24] But ubuntu-botho does not allow perpetrators to escape the necessity of confessing and making restitution to survivors, since it places the needs of society – the restoration of relationship – at the heart of reconciliation. As Tutu once told a priest who challenged his views on the subject: “God’s gift of forgiveness is gracious and unmerited but you must be willing to… appropriate the gift.”

[from the biography ‘Desmond Tutu: Rabble-Rouser for Peace’ by John Allen]

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy similiar themed posts:

Forgiveness in under 50 words

How to condemn evil while loving evil people

I need to be stronger


i attended a funeral last nite for one of my ex youth guys (well a pre-funeral actually as the funeral is on saturday but this was called a ‘roer diens?’ or something and was an opportunity to celebrate his life and give testimony) who was stabbed to death on the weekend

tbV and i were two of about 4 white people in a hall filled with coloured people fromJamestown where he lived and where it happened – i had not really known him that well but what stood out to me was that he was a really good natured young dude with great manners and a consistent (with a hint of mischief) smile and positive attitude – but when his mom got up and spoke it almost floored me

she basically got up and said how Adrian is safe now and he is with God and so there is no need for revenge and then basically begged his friends and guys from the community to not add to the bloodshed and tragedy that has already happened

i would imagine when your precious child is taken away from you that the natural response would be that someone must pay and that the guy responsible must suffer –  his mom is a follower of Jesus though and i know that is what prompted that kind of response

i hear the voice of Jesus, hanging bloodied and beaten from the cross, designated Roman instrument of torture and slow death, gasping out, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ and just pray that more of us will really ‘get’ that heart and live it for real in a broken and hurting world.

as Gandhi said, ‘an eye for an eye ends up leaving the whole world blind’

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