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How Archbishop Desmond Tutu Showed Us the Power of Imagination

Like this spiritual leader, our faith and vision for a better world can guide us in the new year.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

What would you like to change or do differently in 2022? We know that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. It might feel comfortable to stick with old behaviors, but it’s a missed opportunity for growth.

As children, we imagined a world filled with the impossible and unexpected. We traveled to other countries and pretended to be different characters. We had imaginary friends and pets. It didn’t matter what the adults around us thought. We dreamed about bigger and better lives. When did we stop?

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Pastor and author Mark Batterson writes in The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears: “At some point, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory. Instead of creating the future, we start repeating the past. Instead of living by faith, we live by logic.”

But some people never lose the spirit of imagination and faith to create a different future. One of those was Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu. A few days ago he died at the age of 90 in Cape Town, South Africa, where he helped bring down the system of apartheid after decades of struggle. Archbishop Tutu didn’t accept the world he lived in as final. Instead, his faith and spirited oratory empowered him to lead others and see a more just way of life.

In 1984 Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and when freedom triumphed over apartheid in the early 1990s, he helped the country build new relationships and reconciliation between its white and black citizens. He never allowed himself to hate his enemies. Throughout the fight for equality, Archbishop Tutu remained hopeful and once said, “Justice, goodness, love and compassion must prevail.”

We can learn a lot from this amazing man and leader. Archbishop Tutu imagined something better. With time, the seemingly impossible became possible. Although much work remains, he never stopped thinking, believing and advocating for all people, especially the downtrodden. He leaned in and took the kind of action that many avoid and embraced discomfort so others would be comforted.

As we welcome 2022, instead of living from memory, let us create an amazing future for ourselves and others. Like Archbishop Tutu, think, believe, pray and work to become a better person; imagine a world where justice, goodness, compassion and love prevail.

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