One of the strong focuses of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is Peace Leadership. Since the creation of the Foundation, we have encouraged leadership for peace and tried to shine a light on it. For 28 years, we have given an annual award for Distinguished Peace Leadership to some of the greatest Peace Leaders of our time. In giving these awards, our purpose has been not only to honor outstanding peace leaders, but to inspire others, particularly young people, to greater commitment in building a more peaceful and decent world.
In 1990, we had the great pleasure of honoring Archbishop Tutu. Actually, the honor we bestowed upon him paled in comparison to the honor he bestowed upon us by accepting. His acceptance speech upon receiving our award was entitled “God’s Dream,” and was published in the Foundation’s anthology, Waging Peace II.
In his acceptance speech, Archbishop Tutu pointed out, “A minute fraction of what nations spend on their budgets of death would be enough to ensure that children everywhere had adequate housing, a clean supply of water, adequate health facilities, and proper education. People would live with a sense of fulfillment and not labor under stressful anxiety that is caused by the uncertainties of what the future holds. Many, especially young people, ask whether life is worth living when it is lived under the shadow of the mushroom cloud.”
Though more than 20 years have passed since he uttered those words and since the Cold War ended, we and our children continue to live under that mushroom cloud and we continue to spend vast amounts globally on our militaries rather than on our common good. We fight unnecessary wars and develop new instruments of long-distance killing rather than building a world we can be proud to pass on to our children.
Archbishop Tutu is one of the great men of our time. He played a leading role in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. He then led the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, bringing a new process for healing to his country and to the world. The world badly needs such social innovation to keep pace with the technological innovations that have put civilization and humankind in danger of annihilation.
For over 20 years, the Archbishop has served on the Advisory Council of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, where he has offered his advice and support. In 2002, Archbishop Tutu wrote the foreword for an anthology connected with the Foundation’s twentieth anniversary, Hope in a Dark Time. In his foreword, he wrote:
“I have had many blessings in my life. One of the greatest of these has been to witness the power of forgiveness. In the aftermath of the apartheid regime in South Africa, we chose the path of forgiveness and reconciliation. As the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I learned first-hand the transformative nature of forgiveness. It is a power that can cleanse the human heart and free us from hatred and bloodlust. I am convinced there is no future without forgiveness, and in forgiveness there is hope we can put an end to wars and violence.”
Archbishop Tutu is the Archbishop emeritus of Capetown. Among his many honors, he is a Nobel Peace Laureate. He is a humble and decent man, a man who makes us proud of our common humanity and inspires us to be better and to build a better world.