Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All the Difference (2010)
Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu
Like his good friend, the Dalai Lama, he has lived through things that those of us in the developed world cannot even imagine yet has remained optimistic about humanity.
He was one of the central figured in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and a witness to many of the horrors that happened in that fight for freedom, yet here he has written a book describing the inherent goodness and beauty of humanity.
I’ve talked on my blog about God and religion and faith, and many things Bishop Tutu says here are akin to what I feel.
Perfect love is the love that is responsive rather than reactive. It pays little or no regard to the emotions aroused in any given moment. We love perfectly when the good we do cares nothing for how we feel. When we love perfectly we endure beyond endurance.We pour ourselves out despite pain, stress, sadness, or fatigue.
And of course there are statements beyond religion and faith, that move to the heart of changing yourself.
In our world our self-worth seems so bound up in outdoing each other. We have this arbitrary set of standards against which we are constantly measuring ourselves, and we never measure up.
It is stunning to think that a man I and so many others admire would think this about himself.
He also says something that reflects one of the issues I have with prayer (it’s not about prayer per se, but I think it reflects my thoughts to some degree).
When hardships befall us, we cry out to heaven, “Why me?” When good fortune attends us, it is the grateful heart that has the courage to ask, “Why me?”
Consider that: we always ask, “why me?” when something bad happens, but it is no less reasonable to ask the same thing when we have good fortune as well.
And then we get to the heart of the argument, and what resonates so strongly with me.
We have freedom to choose right. But that would be meaningless if there were not also the possibility that we would choose wrong. If there were no potential for evil, then our God-given freedom would be like the offerings of the old Ford Motor Company: “You can choose any color as long as it’s black.”
Yes. That is precisely how I feel! Evil (or whatever you care to call it) exists because we have free will. Bad things happen because we are free to make choices.
What kind of God would let these things happen? A God who will not violate our freedom.
God has profound reverence for our freedom. Because in this regard, God will not send an angel with a flaming sword to stand before us to turn us away from our chosen path. I often say that God would rather we go freely to hell than that we be compelled to enter heaven.
If God is with us, and God is good, how can God watch while we suffer? Why does God not intervene to stir up the repentance of those who do us harm? Why does God not turn them aside from their wickedness? Because God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, but God is not capricious. A God who would suspend the laws of nature may soothe us in one moment but would, ever after, upend our sense of safety. We could never rely upon season following season. We could not be certain that heavy things would stay down or light things float up. A capricious God could, at any moment, decide that order had no place in creation.
There is so much wisdom in this book–wisdom from a man who has suffered and yet has lived the life he believed to be right.
When we imagine we are self-made, we confine God to a controllable corner of our lives. After all, if we are self-made, then we are in charge. We know how our lives are meant to look and how to make them look that way. Failure offers us a chance to discern the hand of God in the patter of our lives. It offers us the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of so many people, remembered and forgotten, who have all had a part in shaping the people we have come.
I highly recommend this book.
Published by HarperCollins