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.
Archbishop Tutu 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.
WOW, wow, wow
Tutu says that wonder of human spirit can also be found in humanitarian workers helping in some of the world's worst crises.
"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?'"
Love is the answer
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.