95 Best Desmond Tutu Quotes Of All Time

Desmond Tutu Quotes

Here we’ve compiled a list of the best 95 Desmond Tutu quotes on oppression, peace, forgiveness, God, love, and hope.

There’s so much to say about Desmond Mpilo Tutu. He was included in one of the most influential people. The South African religious leader and philosopher Desmond Tutu was born in 1931. He is best known for his work against apartheid which led him to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

During this time, he was one himself as well – being blocklisted by what he helped create: The system that took away people’s livelihoods because they were not “white.” There are many reasons why Desmond Mpilo Tutu is still in the hearts of many people. He was the first black Anglican Bishop in America, heading up their church there for over 20 years before becoming Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of All Ordinaries of The Anglican Communion- a position he still holds today!

So, let’s explore these 95 famous and best Desmond Tutu quotes that you’ll love reading.

Desmond Tutu Quotes on Oppression

  1. “If you want to keep people subjugated, the last thing you place in their hands is a Bible. There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.” — Desmond Tutu
  2. “It isn’t that it’s questionable when you speak up for the right of people with different sexual orientation. People took some part of us and used it to discriminate against us. In our case, it was our ethnicity; it’s precisely the same thing for sexual orientation. People are killed because they’re gay.” — Desmond Tutu
  3. “Inclusive, good-quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies.” — Desmond Tutu
  4. “As long as we fail to face up to the past and deal with it accordingly, the future will smack of corruption.” — Desmond Tutu
  5. “Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language… It is to say, ‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.'” — Desmond Tutu
  6. “When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.” — Desmond Tutu
  7. “Twenty-five years ago, people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change. Today we have no excuse. No more can it be dismissed as science fiction; we are already feeling the effects.” — Desmond Tutu
  8. “We have a planet that is at risk, where resources don’t have a permanent life. We are going to have to make the decision: are we going to survive, or are we waiting for our extinction? One day we will wake up and find people are fighting not for oil but water.” — Desmond Tutu
  9. “I don’t want a moratorium on the death penalty. I want the abolition of it. I can’t understand why a country [USA] that’s so committed to human rights doesn’t find the death penalty an obscenity.” — Desmond Tutu
  10. “When you go to the Holy Land and see what’s being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it’s the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa. Whether you want to say Israel practices apartheid is immaterial. They are doing things, given their history, you think, “Do you remember what happened to you?” Then they clobber you and say, “You are anti-Semitic.”” — Desmond Tutu
  11. “Universal education is not only a moral imperative but an economic necessity, to pave the way toward making many more nations self-sufficient and self-sustaining.” — Desmond Tutu
  12. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” — Desmond Tutu
  13. “Instead of separation and division, all distinctions make for a rich diversity to be celebrated for the sake of the unity that underlies them. We are different so that we can know our need of one another.” — Desmond Tutu
  14. “I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid.” — Desmond Tutu
  15. “I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.” — Desmond Tutu
  16. “To treat anyone as if they were less than human, less than a brother or a sister, no matter what they have done, is to contravene the very laws of our humanity.” — Desmond Tutu
  17. “Gaza is going to test who believes in the worth of human beings.” — Desmond Tutu
  18. “We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow. For there will be no tomorrow.” — Desmond Tutu
  19. “Is Zionism racism? I would say yes. It’s a policy that, to me, looks like it has very many parallels with racism. The effect is the same. Whether you call it that or not is in a sense irrelevant.” — Desmond Tutu
  20. “We need other human beings in order to be human.” — Desmond Tutu
  21. “I’m so thankful a significant majority of Americans are saying no to military intervention. We’ve got to find a solution that will, in the end, be one that makes Syria a better country, a better people. We can be human only together.” — Desmond Tutu
  22. “The abolition of the death penalty is making us a civilized society. It shows we actually do mean business when we say we have reverence for life.” — Desmond Tutu
  23. “Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred, but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured.” — Desmond Tutu
  24. “All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others” — Desmond Tutu
  25. “There are people who go to bed hungry, and that is unconscionable.” — Desmond Tutu
  26. “A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished when others are tortured or oppressed.” — Desmond Tutu
  27. “Men and boys, we show our manhood through the way we treat our women. Our wives, our sisters, our mothers.” — Desmond Tutu
  28. “Dream of a world where poverty is history, dream of a world where we don’t spend those obscene billions on arms, knowing full well that a tiny fraction of those budgets of death would ensure that children everywhere had clean water to drink, could afford the cheap inoculations against preventable diseases, would have good schools, adequate healthcare, and decent homes.” — Desmond Tutu
  29. “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.” — Desmond Tutu
  30. “We are living in a historic moment. We are each called to take part in a great transformation. Our survival as a species is threatened by global warming, economic meltdown, and an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor. Yet these threats offer an opportunity to awaken as an interconnected and beloved community.” — Desmond Tutu
  31. “You know when ubuntu is there, and it is obvious when it is absent. It has to do with what it means to be truly human, to know that you are bound up with others in the bundle of life.” — Desmond Tutu
  32. “I’m absolutely, utterly, and completely certain that God wouldn’t be homophobic. I’d much rather go to hell – I really would much rather go to hell – than go to a homophobic heaven.” — Desmond Tutu
  33. “In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom and just peace without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime.” — Desmond Tutu
  34. “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.” — Desmond Tutu
  35. “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.” — Desmond Tutu
  36. “As much as the world has an instinct for evil and is a breeding ground for genocide, holocaust, slavery, racism, war, oppression, and injustice, the world has an even greater instinct for goodness, rebirth, mercy, beauty, truth, freedom and love.” — Desmond Tutu
  37. “We struggled against apartheid because we were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about. It is the same with homosexuality. The orientation is a given, not a matter of choice. It would be crazy for someone to choose to be gay, given the homophobia that is present.” — Desmond Tutu
  38. “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
  39. “A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.” — Desmond Tutu
  40. “We spend billions on banks when we know that a fraction of this money could save all the children in the world.” — Desmond Tutu
  41. “The pressure to succeed has a lot to do with why people overstep the line. It is a peculiar weakness of western culture where we have made a fetish of success.” — Desmond Tutu
  42. “I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.” — Desmond Tutu
  43. “I don’t often want to speak. I try to be a reasonable person and to be diplomatic, but you go to that place, and you see the settlements, you see what has happened to the land that was owned by the Palestinians. I have often said to my Jewish friends: “Please just remember where you come from. Remember Yahweh, who said to the Israelites, ‘Treat the alien well with justice.'”” — Desmond Tutu
  44. “The fundamental law of human beings is interdependence. A person is a person through other persons.” — Desmond Tutu
  45. “When we look squarely at injustice and get involved, we actually feel less pain, not more, because we overcome the gnawing guilt and despair that festers under our numbness. We clean the wound – our own and others’ – and it can finally heal.” — Desmond Tutu
  46. “There would be no call for ecological campaigning had nature not been exploited and abused. We experience the ground now bringing forth thistles as soil erosion devastates formerly arable land, and deserts overtake fertile farms. Rivers and the atmosphere are polluted thoughtlessly, and we are fearful of the consequences of a depleted ozone layer and the devastation of the greenhouse effect. We are not quite at home in our world, and somewhere in each of us there is a nostalgia for a paradise that has been lost.” — Desmond Tutu
  47. “You have to understand that the Bible is really a library of books, and it has different categories of material. There are certain parts which you have to say no to. The Bible accepted slavery. St Paul said women should not speak in church at all, and there are people who have used that to say women should not be ordained. There are many things that you shouldn’t accept.” — Desmond Tutu
  48. “I’ve often been a little concerned by people who say they are color-blind, people who claim, in some ways, not to be aware of race, and I hope that those who will be looking for a vision of the future will be a little more honest, and say race actually does matter.” — Desmond Tutu
  49. “It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. And never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant.” — Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu Quotes on Peace

  1. “Too frequently, we think we have to do spectacular things. Yet if we remember that the sea is actually made up of drops of water and each drop counts, each one of us can do our little bit where we are. Those little bits can come together and almost overwhelm the world. Each one of us can be an oasis of peace.” — Desmond Tutu
  2. “Ubuntu tells us that we can create a more peaceful world by striving for goodness in each moment, wherever we are.” — Desmond Tutu
  3. “Peace without justice is an impossibility.” — Desmond Tutu
  4. “True peace must be anchored in justice and an unwavering commitment to universal rights for all humans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin or any other identity attribute.” — Desmond Tutu
  5. “Children learn about the nature of the world from their family. They learn about power and about justice, about peace, and about compassion within the family. Whether we oppress or liberate our children in our relationships with them will determine whether they grow up to oppress and be oppressed or to liberate and be liberated.” — Desmond Tutu
  6. “No peace is impossible when people are determined to achieve it” — Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu Quotes on Forgiveness

  1. “Without memory, there is no healing. Without forgiveness, there is no future.” — Desmond Tutu
  2. “To forgive is to abandon your right to pay back the predator in his own coin, but it is the loss that Liberates.” — Desmond Tutu
  3. “Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.” — Desmond Tutu
  4. “We can carry the burden of hurt throughout our lives. We can make the hurt that we have experienced the defining aspect of our stories of ourselves. That means that somebody else gets to say who we are, somebody else gets to decide how we feel, and somebody else gets to decide how we see the world. Forgiveness not only frees us from the burden of someone else’s opinion of us, but it allows us the opportunity to really write a story of ourselves that we can love, enjoy, relish, and live into.” — Desmond Tutu
  5. “Forgiveness is an absolute necessity for continued human existence.” — Desmond Tutu
  6. “True reconciliation is never cheap, for it is based on forgiveness which is costly. Forgiveness, in turn, depends on repentance, which has to be based on an acknowledgment of what was done wrong, and therefore on disclosure of the truth. You cannot forgive what you do not know.” — Desmond Tutu
  7. “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
  8. “Without forgiveness, there can be no future for a relationship between individuals or within and between nations.” — Desmond Tutu
  9. “Forgiveness is something that we are often asked to grant, and very few of us ever have the roadmap of how to get from the pain that we have experienced to being able to forgive someone.” — Desmond Tutu
  10. “Forgiveness is abandoning your right to revenge.” — Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu Quotes on God

  1. “When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, “Now is that political or social?” He said, “I feed you.” Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.” — Desmond Tutu
  2. “It is our moral obligation to give every child the very best education possible.” — Desmond Tutu
  3. “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
  4. “We are made by God, we are made like God, we are made for God.” — Desmond Tutu
  5. “God places us in the world as his fellow workers-agents of transfiguration. We work with God so that injustice is transfigured into justice, so there will be more compassion and caring, that there will be more laughter and joy, that there will be more togetherness in God’s world.” — Desmond Tutu
  6. “Each of us is precious to God because each of us has their name written on the palms of God’s hands. And God says there are no outsiders – black, white, yellow, short, tall, young, old, rich, poor, gay, lesbian, straight – everyone. All belong. And God says, I have only you to help me realize my dream. Help me.” — Desmond Tutu
  7. “Isn’t [The Communion, which] used to be known for embodying the attribute of comprehensiveness, of inclusiveness, where we were meant to it sad, that in a time when we face so many devastating problems – poverty, HIV/AIDS, war and conflict – that in our Communion we should be investing so much time and energy on disagreement about sexual orientation? Accommodate all and diverse views, saying we may differ in our theology, but we belong together as sisters and brothers [now seems] hell-bent on excommunicating one another. God must look on, and God must weep.” — Desmond Tutu
  8. “In the end, what matters is not how good we are but how good God is. Not how much we love Him but how much He loves us. And God loves us whoever we are, whatever we’ve done or failed to do, whatever we believe or can’t.” — Desmond Tutu
  9. “Every praying person, every person who has an encounter with God, must have a passionate concern for his or her brother and sister, his or her neighbor.  To treat any of these as if he were less than the child of God is to deny the validity of one’s spiritual existence.” — Desmond Tutu
  10. “In the Bible, we first encounter God when he sides with a bunch of slaves against a powerful Pharaoh, an act of grace freely given.” — Desmond Tutu
  11. “People often speak of God being evenhanded. God is not evenhanded. God is biased, in favor of the weak, of the despised.” — Desmond Tutu
  12. “It is quite exhilarating to speak about a God who has an incredible bias, a notorious bias in favor of the downtrodden. You look at Exodus and the Israelites’ escape from a bottomless pit. God is not evenhanded. God is biased up to his eyebrows.” — Desmond Tutu
  13. “If we are to say that religion cannot be concerned with politics, then we are really saying that there is a substantial part of human life in which God’s writ does not run. If it is not God’s, then whose is it? Who is in charge if not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?” — Desmond Tutu
  14. “Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity – or because of their sexual orientation.” — Desmond Tutu
  15. “Love is universal. You don’t have to tell somebody that loving is better than hating. You don’t have to believe in God to know that stealing is bad. All of God’s children and their different faiths help to realize the immensity of God. No faith contains the whole truth about God. And certainly, Christians don’t have a corner on God. All of us belong to God.” — Desmond Tutu
  16. “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
  17. “When will we learn, when will the people of the world get up and say, enough is enough. God created us for fellowship. God created us so that we should form the human family, existing together because we were made for one another. We are not made for an exclusive self-sufficiency but for interdependence, and we break the law of our being at our peril.” — Desmond Tutu
  18. “Sometimes you want to whisper in God’s ear, “God, we know you are in charge, but why don’t you make it slightly more obvious?” — Desmond Tutu
  19. “Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people?” — Desmond Tutu
  20. “God is not upset that Gandhi was not a Christian because God is not a Christian! All of God’s children and their different faiths help us to realize the immensity of God.” — Desmond Tutu
  21. “I can’t for the life of me imagine that God would say, ‘I will punish you because you are black; you should have been white. I will punish you because you are a woman; you should have been a man. I punish you because you are homosexual; you ought to have been heterosexual. I can’t; I can’t for the life of me believe that that is how God sees things.” — Desmond Tutu
  22. “We must embrace our differences, even celebrate our diversity. We must glory in the fact that God created each of us as unique human beings. God created us different, but God did not create us for separation. God created us different that we might recognize our need for one another. We must reverence our uniqueness, reverence everything that makes us what we are: our language, our culture, our religious tradition.” — Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu Quotes on Love

  1. “Goodness is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Light is stronger than darkness. Life is stronger than death.” — Desmond Tutu
  2. “Love is much more demanding than law.” — Desmond Tutu
  3. “If we have loved well while we were alive, there is life after death here-our love will go on for generations.” — Desmond Tutu
  4. Victory is ours through Him who loved us.” — Desmond Tutu
  5. “If I diminish you, I diminish myself” — Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu Quotes on Hope

  1. “It may seem daunting, but I am a prisoner of hope. We are more connected than ever before, we have more knowledge, and there are solutions if we work together. Today’s technology is a great asset in encouraging global cooperation and understanding.” — Desmond Tutu
  2. “There is no situation that is not transformable.  There is no person who is hopeless.  There is no set of circumstances that cannot be turned about by ordinary human beings and their natural capacity for love of the deepest sort.” — Desmond Tutu
  3. “I certainly know that I would not be able to survive if it were not for the fact that I am being upheld by the prayers of so many people.” — Desmond Tutu

Why does Desmond Tutu believe in forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a powerful tool to have in your life. The lines from Desmond’s book, The Book of Forgiving, “How God’s Love Can Enable Us to Let Go of Wrongdoing and Live Again with Dignity,” give a strong message.

It depicts that when we forgive those who do wrong with us or hurtful people close too far from us, it can help heal our wounds and make us feel better. He also tried to tell how forgiving someone will allow you to move on with peace knowing they are living an honorable.

What did Desmond Tutu do wrong?

Desmond Tutu is an example of someone who has done everything right. He was a South African activist and Anglican bishop whose work with anti-apartheid brought him in contact with Nelson Mandela, Golda Meir, and Angela Davis, among others, who would be labeled enemies by the government during their time as leaders of SA (South Africa). Despite being targeted for assassination on more than one occasion due to his beliefs, he became Chief Rabbi under white’s land administration rules.

What did Desmond Tutu sacrifice?

A quote from an interview with the Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa:

“I sacrificed my family life for God, and that is how it should be.”

 He said that being publicly recognized as someone important in their community has been worth all those years away from home. Due to his work commitments or special events (happening at short notice) meant leaving behind loved ones – even children!

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Written by Fariha Arif

Fariha Arif is a passionate blog writer and loves to write diversified content. She prefers to read novels, browsing the Internet, and traveling in her spare time.

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