Mon, Apr 23, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Tutu's compassion lesson

Kudos to the Taipei Times for glamorously publicizing the visit of Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace laureate and former Anglican Archbishop of South Africa ("Speaking out aids healing, Tutu tells 228 families," April 20, page 1). The enlightening teaching of forgiveness, compassion, magnanimity and reconciliation Tutu has given us has shed new light on the political leaders of Taiwan and on all people who have been yearning for peace, harmony and progress in this era of uncertainty.

Amid the current political and social upheavals created by the numerous unethical malpractices of the ruling and opposition parties, the timely advice and friendly admonition of Tutu will hopefully be employed to re-educate our policy makers and people in all walks of life about the legacy of former South African president Nelson Mandela. In welcoming Tutu, we should also read the article that he wrote and was reprinted in the Taipei Times ("The lesson South Africa can teach those haunted by the past," Jan. 5, page 9).

During the presidential election campaign, too many politicians are deliberately and recklessly reviving the controversial issues of the tragic 228 Incident, making it an issue by sacrificing the mandate we should uphold, the same one that Tutu proclaimed in South Africa: forgiveness, compassion, magnanimity and reconciliation.

If they are really concerned about the best interests of Taiwan in the 21st century our politicians should turn to the core contents of Tutu's thought-provoking article.

Tutu proudly maintained that part of the success of South Africa's transition was due to a miracle -- the moral colossus that is Mandela, whose calm and sagacity, added to his status as an icon of forgiveness, compassion, magnanimity and reconciliation, made his country the envy of many nations. Taiwan used to be a country that many hailed and envied for its "Taiwan miracle," in addition to being one of the "Four Little Dragons of Asia." Why is it that the international status of Taiwan has been gradually abrogated since 2000?

Tutu has given us part of the answer through which we can rejuvenate this country. In the meantime, Tutu has highlighted our own traditional values of forgiveness, compassion and magnanimity, which have been ripped out of our society by some shallow and badly educated politicians.

The wisdom and compassion that Tutu has conveyed to us is compatible with the advice that Master Sheng Yan (聖嚴法師) used to offer to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁): "Compassion rescinds enmity. Wisdom eliminates worries."

In the wake of Chen's proposition of "transitional justice," Tutu's views should be considered as a solution for all the 23 million people in the nation.

While politicians engage in mud slinging during the election campaign, Tutu's teachings should be learned by all to ensure a harmonious society of forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation, through which Taiwanese can look forward with optimism, instead of being haunted by the past.

I had the honor of meeting and talking with Tutu on July 19, 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. His friendliness and gracious concern for Taiwan in 1996 remains the same today.

The government should adopt and put into practice the timely advice that Tutu candidly offered. It is the only way that we can charter a new course to solidify democracy, and bring ethnic harmony to the nation.

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