The World Health
Assembly in Geneva has received some spiritual guidance in its efforts to deal
with global health concerns. Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu addressed
the gathering Wednesday, saying human rights, justice and love are the
foundations of well-being.
told the World Health Assembly he has a favorite book of cartoons that puts the
state of the world in perspective.
"One of these shows God somewhat nonplussed
and saying, 'Oh, dear, I think I've lost my copy of the Divine Plan!' Well,
looking at the state of the world, we might be forgiven for wondering if God
ever had a plan at all," he says.
World's troubles are many
"There are devastating floods in one part and
destructive droughts in another. Couldn't God have organized it slightly better
so that there was enough water for all everywhere? Then there are all the
man-made disasters of tyranny and oppression – an endless, doleful catalogue of
woe," he says.
Archbishop Tutu says government leaders have
a "calling to expel ignorance, restore justice and defend liberty."
He says, "We have this calling to ensure
peace and build good health. Much disease and heartbreak is preventable if
governments had the political will."
The Nobel Peace Prize winner says, "Evil is
real and rampant." But in the midst of evil, he says, the human spirit often
shines brightest. After the Holocaust, people forgave. In Darfur, he says,
people still laugh.
"It all testified to the wonder of the human
spirit: the capacity to love, to cling to dignity and self-respect, to refuse
to see oneself as a victim or want to be pitied as one," he says.
Tutu says that wonder of human spirit can
also be found in humanitarian workers helping in some of the world's worst
"Wow, wow, wow, we should say. What a
fantastic array of goodness, of compassion, of caring. Continuing the divine
project of healing a broken and wounded world. Making whole that which was
alienated and hurting," he says.
During the apartheid years in South Africa, Archbishop
Tutu says the oppressed were told to keep God in their thoughts.
"We used to say to them, this is God's world,
you know. And God is in charge. Yes, yes, there were times when you wished you
could whisper in God's ear, 'God, we know that you're in charge. Why don't you
make it slightly more obvious?'"
He says love can transform almost any
situation or circumstance. And when there's love, he says, God notices.
"Hey, have you noticed a smile begins to
break over God's face like the sun shining through the rain. And God says, 'Ah,
yah, yah, that is why I created them," he says.
Archbishop Tutu told the World Health
assembly members they have the opportunity and responsibility to lead the world
into a healthy place.