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15 June 2016

Mpho and Desmond TutuIt’s been said that forgiveness does not change the past, but does enlarge the future, and that’s the message that the Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu will be sharing this evening when she delivers the 19th Annual Hawke Lecture.

The daughter of Desmond Tutu, who literally co-wrote the book on forgiveness (The Book of Forgiving) with her father, and who is an ordained Episcopal Priest and founding director of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, will discuss what forgiveness is, from a personal and global perspective, outlining what is required to engage in the act of forgiving.

“Forgiveness takes vast amounts of courage, both individual and communal courage to make a difference,” Rev Tutu says.

“There is the perspective of personal experience – the individual who needs to offer or receive forgiveness - and at a more global level, there are examples, such as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission which serves to highlight the fact that forgiveness is not a way of letting perpetrators off the hook or of brushing the past under the rug, but it is the hard work required to get us to the better world we all dream of.

"Consider Rwanda after the genocide, where there was a decision to engage in a process of deliberate forgiveness that has allowed for the country to rebuild and for the re-birth of hope in the country.

"Compare that to what is happening in the Middle East or the crisis in Syria, or all of these places where  initial affronts have been met with a continual spiral and cycle of retribution and revenge.”

In the wake of the Orlando massacre, Rev Tutu says forgiveness needs to be considered in the wider context of societal perception.

“We need to understand that what forgiveness requires is not only that we condemn the violence but also that we understand the context and that we understand that we, as a society set that context, so that the violence against LGBTI community doesn’t arise from a vacuum but arises in a society where the LGBTI community is demonised, is marginalised, is shamed, where members of that community are treated as second class citizens.

“The target isn’t only a target selected by one young gunman but is a target selected on the basis that it has been a target selected by society.”

Jacinta Thompson, Executive Director of the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, described Reverend Tutu’s presentation as significant, valuable and timely.

“The Annual Hawke Lecture is an opportunity to listen to the views of someone whose experience of human affairs is notable, and whose concerns about our world are truly worthy of consideration.

“Continuing in that tradition, it is a privilege to be able to welcome the Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu to present this year’s lecture.”

Media contact: Will Venn office +61 883020096 mob 0401 366054 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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