Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
-Douglas Adams

From "God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time," by Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams:

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. Perhaps if we could, we might have chosen different brothers and sisters. Fortunately or unfortunately we can't. We have them as they have us. And no matter how your brother may be, you can't renounce him. He may be a murderer or worse, but he remains forever your brother. Can you imagine what would happen in this world of we accepted that fact about ourselves - that whether we like it or not we are members of one family?

The wonderful thing about family is that you are not expected to agree about everything under the sun. Show me a man and wife who have never disagreed and I will show you some accomplished fibbers. But those disagreements, pray God, do not usually destroy the unity of the family. And so it should be with God's family. We are not expected at all times to be unanimous or to have a consensus on every conceivable subject. What is needed is to respect one another's points of view and not to impute unworthy motives to one another or to seek to impugn the integrity of the other. Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another and cherish one another and seek the greater good of the other.

How I pray that in our world we can learn to emulate a true family. Perhaps then we could address the injustices that cause a small percentage of our world to consume the vast majority of its resources - not unlike what happened under apartheid in South Africa - while the vast majority lives in poverty, with over a billion people living on less than a dollar a day. Would you let your brother or sister's family, your relatives, eke out a miserable existence in poverty? And yet every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger and three-quarters of these are children under five. If we realized that we are family, we would not let this happen to our brothers and sisters.

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Also on Beliefnet:

  • A Beliefnet interview with Desmond Tutu

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