Nobel Laureate Brings Message of Hope and Forgiveness to Hawaii

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama have three things in common:

• they are revered spiritual leaders
• they are Nobel Peace Prize laureates
• they laugh a lot

Tutu, archbishop emeritus of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, laughed repeatedly during a press conference at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew Thursday in downtown Honolulu.

The archbishop reminded me a lot of the Dalai Lama, who I covered during his Pillars of Peace visit to Hawaii in April. Regardless of one's beliefs, to be in the presence of such men is uplifting and inspirational.

Tutu's message was simple: The world is full of people who are fundamentally good, we should forgive each other, and we should work to make the world a better place.

But he also had rather more pointed things to say: America is one of "the craziest of places," full of nice people yet still a racist country. It is also a nation that includes Hawaii, which he credited with producing the first black U.S. president.

"Ha-ha!" he exclaimed.

Tutu praised the diversity and tolerance of Hawaii, something, he said, "We long to have in South Africa. ... We want to be the rainbow nation."

The archbishop is in Hawaii for a series of events, including a $500 and $1,000 per person meet-and-greet Friday that culminates with a conversation between the archbishop and Leslie Wilcox of PBS Hawaii. Proceeds will be used to endow the Desmond Tutu Outreach Fund for community benefit ministries in Hawaii, like Saint Andrew's support of the Institute of Human Services.

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