By the Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu
Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
1984 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
|There seems to be no end to the depths to which our inhumanity towards other human
beings will sink. I don't believe history repeats itself, as some would say But T do believe
there is a naw in human nature that, if allowed full rein, leads to suspicion, alienation, vic-
timization, and finally even genocide - Lhe "final solution."
The basis of this human naw is an inordinate concentraLion on those blological, physi-
cal, and cultural differences which make us who we are, the subverttng of the very person-
hood of others into something worthless and alien, and therefore to be feared. Fear of the
other is at the root of ethnic connict. AII too frequentLy this weakness of human nature sur-
faces and wreaks havoc on the perpetrators of such inhumanity as it does on their victims.
In South Africa under apartheid we knew the humiliatton of being thought of as less
than fully human, second-class citizens without rights who could be uprooted from our .
homes in the name of ethnic order and puriLy. We endured a regime of injustice and oppres-
sion which mercifully fell short of the "final solution."
To sweep under the carpet the atrocities which occurred in Nanking in 1937-38 and
turn a blind eye to the truth is at best a gross disservlce to future generations and at worst to
be criminally negligent and irresponsible. A record such as this book is an essential part of
our history. However terrible, we must not be sheltered from the evils of our past. Tf we
attempt to forget and try to believe that human nature is good all of the time we will bitterly
regret our amnesia, for our past will come to haunt us. We know that while created inher-
ently good, any one of us can fall to depths of evil we might ne\'er believe possible. It is part
of the way we are and why it is so necessary to constantly be alert to our failings.
It is necessary to know the tnuh of what happened in Nanking in order that the perpe-
trators mtght accept their wrongdoing and seek reconciliation. We can only forgive what we
know and reconciliation Ls impossible without forgiveness. We are discovering this in 50uth
Africa. President Mandela has set up a Tnlth and Reconciliation Commission whose purpose
is to promote national unity and reconciliation. Tt is required to investigate past violations
against human rights, irrespective of who in our society may have comm4tted wrongdotng.
The Commission has the power to grant amnesty to those who are guilty and to provide a
means of symbolic restitution to the victims. It will seek the truth and in doing so hopes to
bring about authentic reconciliation and peace in our country.
I am pleased to be associated with this book, however graphic of the horrors of that
dreadful time, as T believe it to be an instrument of reconciliation. Tt is a step on the road
to a better world.