Made for Goodness
Posted by Kevin Salwen on 03.23.2010Share

Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho, have written a new book, Made for Goodness, which he says they decided to write after he kept hearing the same questions over and over again: "How can you be so hopeful after witnessing so much evil?" and "Why are you so sure goodness will triumph in the end?"

The book, because it is written by two priests, doesn't surprise in that it offers that God imbues us with goodness. Beyond that, though, I love some of the ways that the Tutus look at the world. Consider this passage:

"Evil cannot have the last word because we are programmed -- no, hard-wired -- for goodness. Yes, goodness can be enlightened self-interest. Kindness builds goodwill. Generosity invites reciprocation. But even if there were absolutely no material benefit to being kind, you can't counterfeit the warm glow that you have inside when you have been kind. You just can't! That glow is something you relish because that's how we've been created.... Goodness is not just our impulse. It is our essence."

You can't counterfeit the warm glow. Indeed!

Later in the book, they explain how that goodness translates into caring. The Xhosa word ubuntu "recognizes that human beings need each other for survival and well-being. A person is a person only through other persons, we say. We must care for one another in order to thrive." In other words, my humanity is bound together with your humanity.

For readers of this blog, these ideas of interconnectedness and a sense of mutual self-interest may not be new. But I like the way the Tutus have framed this urging for us all to be better by recognizing our own sense of good. It's an optimistic and refreshing view of a world that can sometimes feel so cynical.

Kevin- Thanks so much for answering my questions. Please post news of your visit this summer. So much of what you wrote about your trip was like reading of my own trips to Miraj, India. You have to give responsibility to others, and the impromptu speeches were only surprising and tough the first few times!! And, as you say, patience is key, and its amazing when you go back the next year and see the development that occurred "without you". Thank you for what your family has done. Janet
Posted by janet at 7:11pm on 03.29.2010

Janet, we will return to Ghana this summer. As for waiting for the change, we are patient; we know the fast fixes are a flop -- that people need time to change their own futures. This is the patient capital approach to economic development. We are rebuilding our funds for the kids' education. I think we will be alright and our support for the project will remain strong. Thanks for asking. Kevin
Posted by Kevin at 01:18am on 03.28.2010

just finished reading the book and came to this site to find out what has happened since. Have you returned, or are you going to, return to Ghana? Is it difficult to wait for the kind of change you are supporting (as opposed to that instant kind of hands-on project, see change quickly gratification)? With the house sold, did you end up with enough to support the project and keep the education funds? Thanks for your work, and hope to hear from you.
Posted by janet at 11:34pm on 03.25.2010