THINK of the worst people on earth - the scum of the world; serial killers, rapists and their ilk. Somewhere inside their cold, heartless façade is a child of God, made for goodness.

Man of the cloth, Desmond Tutu, says so.

This is not froth-inducing Bible-thumping, holier-than-thou stuff, it is the sort of exchange even those on the periphery of society can listen to - and hear.

I have always suspected this but if someone of the stature of The Arch vindicates me, who am I to argue otherwise?

"God dwells in us. This is the essential truth of who we are. We are creatures made in the image of God. At the core of our being is goodness."

Why else do you think people break down and cry when they ask for the forgiveness of those they have wronged?

On page 194, The Arch and his daughter Mpho, an ordained priest, tell us: "What is normative is goodness."

They add: "Wrongness runs against the grain of creation. Evil is so contrary to our nature that we must construct justifications to allow ourselves to do what we know to be wrong or cruel."

To make their point, father and daughter draw lessons from varied experiences such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where dad was chair, to their own lives.

The male Tutu, who was in the habit of bursting into tears at TRC hearings, leads the discourse here.

Apartheid South Africa and her litany of injustices serve as a background to this biblical account of how essentially good we are as humans. Contrary to our actions, we are made for goodness.

Those apartheid foot-soldiers who killed Phila Portia Ndwandwe were in awe of her resilience.

The Dalai Lama, in his many years of exile from his motherland, bears no grudges against the Chinese rulers.

Gerry Adams, the president of the Sinn Fein is, in the eyes of the children of his opponents, an evil man. This is only because their parents have not opened their eyes to - the possibility - of the goodness of man.

This is written in my anathema - American English, but I read it over and over again because I agree, man was made for goodness - anything else is just an aberration.