A life of goodness
“He was our moral compass”, “a giant of love”, “a freedom fighter”, shared people in the streets of Cape Town on the great loss of their “Arch”, as he is affectionately remembered.
He lived a consistent, morally courageous life until the moment he took the red carpet to heaven. A simple coffin, no fanfare, no bending to what his funeral was supposed to look like according to some set of outdated rules and rigid leaders. In his death, as in his life, he consistently broke the rules to do what was right. To set an example for all of us on what it means to be guided by no other agenda than that of love for, and service to others.
It was deeply unsettling to see the Arch so very still in his simple pine coffin. For the 17 years we’ve had the honour to partner with him, he was constantly in motion, dancing and jumping for joy, or fiercely moving his whole body with authentic emotion in the fight for justice. He never stopped. And he never let go of his dream for a world of goodness, where love and justice prevail. One of the most heart-warming memories from this week was when someone at the Tutu Foundation gathering said: “Dance in peace Arch.”
Some of the conversations over the last few days touched on how to ensure the Arch’s legacy does not compete with Madiba’s. Each time someone said it, I heard the Arch’s famous cackle of unstoppable giggling, followed by, “did you miss the point?”
Arch was who he was because of Madiba, because of Leah, because of Graça Machel, because of Mary Robinson, because of the young homeless man sleeping in the rain on Kloof Street the morning of Arch’s service. His being and his legacy are intertwined with all the deep friendships he held in his life – and with all those he fought for.
He lived Ubuntu – “I am because you are.” His legacy will be realised when we lift humanity by losing a singular focus on self-interest, on individual super heroes, on competition, and realise, as Buckminster Fuller said so eloquently: “It has to be everybody or nobody.”
Dance in peace Arch, with Madiba and all those who loved you into being and who you loved into being. What a crowd that will be!
Virgin Unite, with the support of a great group of partners, had the privilege of incubating The Elders in 2007. We continue to support the Elders to reach their goals of supporting peace, justice and human rights worldwide.