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.