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Archbishop Tutu wows crowd of 4000
A standing ovation for the Nobel Peace Prize winner
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu spoke to a crowd of approximately 4,000 on Monday evening.  Tutu was on campus as the 2010 Presidential Lecturer. Initially scheduled to speak in a smaller hall, the speech was moved to the largest venue on campus. It would not be an exageration to say that a pin drop would have sounded like a shot in the quiet of the room while Tutu spoke.  The crowd made up of college students, young people and adults from all over the region, listened intently as the Archbishop spoke for forty five minutes.

The diminutive clergyman, now 89 years old, was at turns funny, telling gentle jokes that poked fun at human nature. At one point he told the crowd that what they would hear was not autobiographical. Then he went on to discuss the things that drive women crazy, spacing his words for maximum effect - leaving... the....seat....up. Then turning to what drives a man crazy - "Why" he thundered, "does that woman squeeze the toothpaste tube from the end." 

 The point? Marriages, like other relationships, have times of conflict.

Tutu told the crowd there are three ways to deal with conflict. First is to let bygones be bygones. The problem, he said, is that "bygones have a habit of not being gone. The problems fester and don't go away...."  The second way is to get back at whoever offends you. The Middle East with its suicide bombers and government reprisals are an example of this approach. Tutu said that it leads to a deepening cycle of violence. The third way is to utter the words, "I'm sorry. Forgive me. I know I injured you." Those words, said Tutu, are potent.

South Africa considered all three approaches after apartheid, the systemic separation of races, fell apart. Then South African President  F. W. deKlerk, another Murray State Presidential Lecturer, took the courageous step of recognizing opposition political parties and releasing Nelson Mandela from prison twenty years ago this February. Tutu said there were those who wanted to let the past be the past, but that would have ignored the victims.

Others wanted Nuremberg type trials. That solution wouldn't work for South Africa as it did the Allies after World War II. Tutu said the Allies practiced "victors' justice" because they clearly won.  That was not the case in South Africa. There were atrocities on both sides.  Instead, Tutu led a program of foregiveness and reconciliation. Powerful things happened when offenders confessed and victims' families forgave them. 

Tutu discussed America's response to the 9/11 attacks. He criticized America's attack on Iraq and said had the country treated the attackers facilitators as criminals and treated them as such, the world would have been supportive. He deplored the billions spent on munitions. When, he asked, will we realize that a small fraction of what we spend on weapons would provide clean drinking water for children. The remark drew applause from the audience.

The Archbishop said that young people should keep dreaming of a better world. Pointing to the crowd, he said, "God has no one to make his dreams come true, but you and you and you."


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