20 Of The Best Desmond Tutu Quotes On Hope & Forgiveness

Desmond Tutu (1931 – 2021) was a renowned South African Anglican bishop, human rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Tutu emerged as a prominent figure during the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and played a significant role in promoting racial equality and social justice and became the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and Bishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in 1986.

He utilized his position to challenge the oppressive apartheid regime through nonviolent means, advocating for peaceful resistance and reconciliation, with his efforts to dismantle apartheid and promote democracy earning him international recognition and the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

Throughout his life, Desmond Tutu has been known for his wise and inspiring quotes. Many of his quotes continue to resonate and remain relevant today:

Famous Desmond Tutu Quotes


“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu


“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Desmond Tutu


“We learn from history that we don’t learn from history!” Desmond Tutu


“Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread or stick in someone’s back.” Desmond Tutu


“God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.” Desmond Tutu


“We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity.” Desmond Tutu


Quotes From Desmond Tutu on Optimism


“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” Desmond Tutu


“We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family.” Desmond Tutu


“We are made for loving. If we don’t love, we will be like plants without water.” Desmond Tutu


Desmond Tutu Quotes on Hope


“Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.” Desmond Tutu


“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu


“We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew… Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful… and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.” Desmond Tutu


“It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathy and compassion and discover our soul.” Desmond Tutu


“Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of inestimable value.” Desmond Tutu


“Children are a wonderful gift. They have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things and to expose sham and humbug for what they are.” Desmond Tutu


Desmond Tutu Quotes About Forgiveness


“Forgiving is not forgetting; it’s actually remembering – remembering and not using your right to hit back. It’s a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.” Desmond Tutu


“We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.” Desmond Tutu


“Without forgiveness, there’s no future.” Desmond Tutu


“Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.” Desmond Tutu


“Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.” Desmond Tutu


Desmond Tutu’s quotes continue to inspire people worldwide, offering guidance on how to navigate the complexities of our time.

By addressing issues of human rights, reconciliation, nonviolence, and community, his words remind us of the enduring values necessary for creating a more just and compassionate world.

For more inspirational quotes:

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