PW: The title of your book is God Has a Dream. What is God's dream?
Desmond Tutu: God's dream is that one day all of us will realize that we are members of God's family. That all of us are sisters and brothers. And not just in a sentimental way. The most radical thing that Jesus Christ said was that we were sisters and brothers—meaning that you have the ethic of family operating. And when the ethical family operates, we don't think we are doing a "kindness" to, say, a poor nation when we give them aid. The ethic of family says: from each according to their ability; to each according to their need. It speaks about our total interdependence. We are fully human when we recognize that we are made for interdependence.
PW: What compelled you to write this book at this time?
DT: I think the fact that we are overwhelmed with so much conflict—or nearly overwhelmed, I should say—it was important for someone to remind us that evil is not going to have the last word. This world is a world in the making—and God has us as God's collaborators, fellow-workers, and ultimately good will prevail.
PW: That sounds very optimistic.
DT: This is not just a facile kind of optimism, which can quickly turn into pessimism when things seem not to be working out. It is hope. It is being filled with a sense that this is a moral universe, that right and wrong matter. We kept saying to our people when were fighting against apartheid: "They have already lost." Because this is a moral universe.
PW: In your book, you write, "To oppose injustice and oppression is not... merely political.... It is profoundly religious." What do you mean by that?
DT: Frequently when they attacked me for being involved in politics, I used to say, I wish I knew which Bible they were reading! Because the Bible I read was quite clear: God revealed God to the children of Israel, not in a sanctuary, but by carrying out a political act—freeing a bunch of slaves. Nothing could be more political. And yet that was also deeply religious. They then realized that the God who does this kind of thing must be a God who cares, who is biased in favor of the weak, the oppressed, the marginalized. There is no aspect of life that is not ultimately religious. Nothing. Nothing is secular.
PW: Do you think your book has something to offer non-Christian, or even non-religious, people?
DT: I believe so very much. I think we tend to suffer from a sense of insecurity and inadequacy because our culture sets such high store by success. We think that what gives us our worth is our achievement. No! You exist because you are loved. You count, however you are. At the center of this universe is a heart beating with love.
PW: What is ubuntu, and how is it related to God's dream?
DT:Ubuntu is a concept that we have in our Bantu languages at home. The essence of being a person, that is being ubuntu: you cannot be a human being in isolation. God keeps trying to make us realize we are made for interdependence, we are made for family. When you have ubuntu, you are a person who is generous, who is compassionate, who embraces others. And if the world were to know this, and act accordingly, we would not have war. We would not have this huge gap between the rich and the poor. Because you are rich not for your own self-aggrandizement; if you are rich, it is so that you can make up what is lacking in the one who is less rich. Just as you are powerful not for your own sake only; you are powerful as a father so you can protect those who are less powerful. That is working out God's dream.
PW: What do you hope your readers get out of this book?
DT: That they will have a new faith in themselves and realize just how beautiful they are.