We have developed a global village without space for those who don’t look like us.

Humanity has invested massive resources in the development of technology, but has made little progress in the development of compassion.

Through our abilities to communicate, fly, climb, build, dig, extract and carry we have shrunk the world to what we term a global village. A global village populated by “them” and “us”.

We’ll trade with them and participate in their conflicts, but if they don’t look like us, talk like we do, eat the same foods, or subscribe to our culture or religious beliefs, when the chips are down we tend to disavow them – or, at best, pity them from afar.

When the chips are down the walls and hackles go up because we don’t necessarily regard each other as fellow humans. We don’t want “others” to share what we regard as rightfully “ours”, we who feel entitled to live relatively dignified and secure lives.

We’ll trade with their countries and participate in their conflicts, as long as it’s at arm’s length. We don’t want them here.

We witness their suffering in the daily news, and some of us feel deeply moved by their plight. But our compassion isn’t sufficiently developed to regard their plight as our plight. To view them as equals… to open our hearts and our doors, and share our bread.

The refugees desperate to escape wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are as deserving of living decent peaceful lives as anyone else. They did not ask to be terrorised and terrified, or to lose their homes and possessions and communities. They have children, harbour dreams, laugh and love, cry and bleed – just as we do.

In the context of their misery, through opening its doors powerful Germany has risen to the fore in its embrace of global compassion. The sight of “ordinary” German citizens feeding new-arrivals to their land is exemplary and extraordinary.

There is an old African idiom that says, it takes a village to raise a child. All are responsible; all contribute. As it should be in the global village of love, mercy and compassion.


Statement from the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. 8 September 2015