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Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Revolution of Tenderness

Pope Francis delivered a surprise TED talk this week, recorded at the Vatican, which your Head Trucker finds very appropriate to this moment in history, when all the world seems consumed by arrogance, ignorance, and deadly hatred.   Excerpt:
How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the "culture of waste," which doesn't concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.

Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary. Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone. Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being? . . .

The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity. People's paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people. And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves "respectable," of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets. Mother Teresa actually said: "One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense."

We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day? Thank God, no system can nullify our desire to open up to the good, to compassion and to our capacity to react against evil, all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you might tell me, "Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta." On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today's conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around. . . .

The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution: the revolution of tenderness. And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.

Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other. God himself descended into Jesus to be on our level. This is the same path the Good Samaritan took. This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire human existence practicing the real, concrete language of love.

Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: "Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach." You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.
Full text here.

Click the "CC" button at the bottom of the video to see English subtitles.


Frank said...

I'm glad Francis took an opportunity to address the world in this talk. However I didn't find it particularly inspiring or cutting edge, which is what I was hoping, expecting and anticipating.

And if I was not inspired or moved (and I am one who is easily moved) I don't expect the Pope's words will have much impact on those whose lives are "centered around money, and things, instead of people." Perhaps his message was too mild. He didn't shake things up.

I thought that the most genuine and revealing part of Francis' talk was the reference to his personal question, "Why them, and not me?" The existential questions are rarely considered these days and perhaps that is because we are, as a society, not as introspective as we once were.

Frank said...

I cannot believe what I just read about the person we are supposed to call our president:


The very ANTITHESIS of Pope Francis' talk.

Russ Manley said...

I've responded to your second comment on your blog, Frank.

As to the Pope's talk, well, as I see it there is nothing new or "cutting-edge" to say. No amount of technology or science or shiny-sparkly toys will make a difference in human nature, which is always the same - and must always be subdued, tamed, and channeled into unselfishness.

The Victorians, at the spearhead of the Industrial Revolution, were great believers in Progress - they imagined that all their wondrous new technologies would eventually banish poverty, crime, ignorance, illness, and all the other woes of humanity. And while electricity, steam, and internal combustion did in fact alleviate some problems, we see now that mere technology was not a universal panacea, and neither will the miraculous novelties of our own time be such. In fact, in some ways, they have only made matters worse, and the gap between rich and poor is for many people as bad as it ever was in the Victorian era.

You are welcome to disagree with me, but I think Pope Francis nailed it perfectly. There is no new message to be given, Frank, only the old one, which unfortunately has all too often fallen on deaf ears: Love your neighbor as yourself. That is the sum of what Francis said, and that is the Christian message, plain and simple. In fact, it is the message of every great religion in all parts of the world. And the only one that gives any possibility of hope to poor, fragmented, distracted, tormented humanity.

Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God and your neighbor - for God is Love. All those things that you learned in your catechism. There is no other message, Frank. Science is a false god: the mere manipulation of matter, which cannot control or soothe the human heart. Whether we live in caves or in crystal palaces, what humanity needs - liberals as well as conservatives, the smart as well as the ignorant - is not more science, but more love, more compassion, and much more humility.

Or we will destroy ourselves with all our groovy new cutting-edge tools and toys. Love - as the Pope described - is the only thing that will turn the tide, if it is not too late already. I see no other solution.

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