It was April 15, 2008, and there I sat, row three in the University of Washington field stadium surrounded by people wall-to-wall. On stage, the Seattle Symphony under the baton of conductor Gerard Schwarz. The Symphony was joined by youth artists who sat next to their mentors. The ensemble was immense and there to the side of the stage sat Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama, often chuckling, reaching out for one another in gestures of true admiration of the other and each embracing the moment. Schwarz raised his baton and as music filled the steel beamed stadium, we saw Archbishop Tutu's feet start moving and then he was up, moving across the stage and taking the baton from Schwarz and momentarily becoming the conductor of the Seattle Symphony.
The following year, the Archbishop met up with the Dalai Lama again, along with Karen Armstrong in Vancouver, Canada. The occasion, part of a Peace Summit, included the signing of the Charter for Compassion. The Charter itself would be launched two months later at the United Nations. British newspaper The Guardian reported that Desmond Tutu stated "We are calling on the world to sign the Charter for Compassion." He continued, "One of the most urgent tasks of our generation is to build a global community, where men and women of all races, nations and ideologies can live together in peace. Religion, which should be making a major contribution to this endeavor is often seen as part of the problem; all too often the voices of extremism seem to drown out those that speak of kindness, forbearance and mutual respect."
The world lost an enthusiastic spirit with the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu on December 26, 2021. He was a David who took on the Goliath of apartheid, led the peaceful reconciliation under Black majority rule in South Africa and bore on his shoulders, the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, often weeping as stories were shared by victims. He was a fierce pragmatist, a gentle man of principle and a tireless champion for kindness. We will miss him as an advocate for compassion in the world. We mourn with the people of South Africa, and especially with those of Compassionate Cape Town who are recommitting to the Charter for Compassion, as they will be relaunching their compassionate community effort with an affirming and signing of the Charter for Compassion on February 5th.
Here is a gift of remembrance of the Archbishop that we received from them. It is a moving tribute: https://youtu.be/e9KXnGRqRDA
With warm regards,
Charter for Compassion
This message from Marilyn Turkovich, Executive Director of the Charter for Compassion, appears in our 1/9/2021 weekly newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter, scroll all the way down to the end of this page to get to the bottom menu, in the newsletter section enter your email address and click on subscribe.