Here’s to honouring courageous individuals, making a difference in whatever their sphere of influence. Global or local.
Thirty-six years ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize. Now he’s received the Human Rights Global Treasure Award for his courageous opposition to apartheid by US-based NGO Article3.org.
Piyushi Kotecha, CEO of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, said: “Over a lifetime of activism for fairness, dignity and justice for all, the Arch has had the courage to act on his choices: Friend of the underdog, voice of the voiceless, nemesis of unscrupulous leaders; he is a tailor who heals the tears and the tears in the fabric of humanity. A pastor to the world.”
“Now more than ever, it’s important that we see the common humanity in one another and understand the interconnectedness of ourselves, our communities, and our nations. We face enormous challenges, and addressing those challenges requires all of us to understand that conflict, violence and persecution are never isolated — what affects one of us affects all of us.”
Aptly, he was honoured on Human Rights Day, that was kickstarted on 10 December1948 to mark the UN’s General Assembly adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Tutu, who advocates for forgiveness and reconciliation, chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1995 and coined the phrase ‘Rainbow Nation,’ in reference to South Africa’s numerous make-up.
Special messages were streamed from friends, including the Dalai Lama and Graça Machel, also part of The Elders, who said he’s “the embodiment of courage, integrity, standing for the disenfranchised and speaking truth to power.”
Described as a “generational radical” by the poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and ”as one of the most compassionate, unwavering, and committed leaders for human rights and dignity who has always spoken up and taken action for those most in need of a voice and a spotlight” by Darian Swig, founder of Article3.org.
Tutu and US former president Al Gore have warned that “corporations, governments and institutions that continue to invest in fossil fuels despite all the evidence of their effect on accelerating climate change are furthering environmental, economic and social injustice”.
He is a long-time advocate for gay and lesbian people around the globe, and has condemned persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity in countries like Uganda. More recently, Tutu has been an active voice in calling attention to the state-sanctioned violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
In a local sphere of influence I’ve been inspired by this video below, where another courageous person asks: “How can I make my country better? What am I doing to make a difference – just one small thing”?
As a lodestar for New Year intentions, I’ve also been inspired by these words:
”Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can do”.
May I share this with you, as a perspective-leveller and for glimpse of my part of the planet?
For a rousing take on seasonal festivities, why not listen to this South African carol composed by Grant McLachlan, sung by the New Apostolic Church Choir & Orchestra, and conducted by Edwin Mitas?