Desmond and the Very Mean Word

A Story of Forgiveness (2013)
Desmond and the Very Mean Word


According to the author's note at the back of the book, this story is inspired by something that actually happened to the author (Archbishop Tutu) as a child in South Africa. 

Desmond received a new bike, the only child in his township to have a bike, and wanted to show it to Father Trevor.  On his way, he had to ride through a group of boys, one of whom used a mean word towards Desmond over and over again.  When Desmond arrived to see Father Trevor he was angry and said he could never forgive them, but instead would get them back.  The next time Desmond saw the boys, he used another mean word towards them, but the "word left a bitter taste in his mouth".  Father Trevor taught Desmond that when we hurt someone, it hurts ourselves as well. 

Desmond wasn't ready to forgive the boy right away, it took him some time.  According to the book, "As soon as the words [I forgive you] were out of his mouth, Desmond felt a little stronger and a little braver and stood up a little taller.

Father Trevor eventually become Archbishop Huddleston and was one of the most important members of the anti-apartheid movement.  Archbishop Tutu and his wife named their first son Trevor in his honor.


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