Guess who showed up (by video) at TED 2017? His Holiness Pope Francis! TED talks are known worldwide for the quality of both the speaker and the subject matter they share. Pope Francis delivered a powerful message for all of us through his talk: Why The Only Future Worth Building Includes Everyone. You can listen to the talk with subtitles and/or read the text in English here.
He shared three key messages:
- “ … we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent "I," separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. He points out that everything is connected and we need to restore healthy connections. He notes, “Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component.”
- “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.” He continues, “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? …Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The "you" is always a real presence, a person to take care of. ”
- The revolution of 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.” He goes on to say that tenderness is “being on the same level as the other.”
Pope Francis closes with this powerful thought, “The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a "you" and themselves as part of an "us." We all need each other.”
This last sentiment reminded me of another wonderful mentor that has guided my life over the years with her writing and speaking, Margaret Wheatley. Listen to her wisdom related to Pope Francis’ message. “When we link up with others, we open ourselves to yet another paradox. While surrendering some of our freedom, we open ourselves to even more creative forms of expression. This stage of being has been described as communion, because we are preserved as ourselves but are shorn of our separateness or aloneness. What we bring to others remains our self-expression. Yet the meaning of who we are changes through our communion with them.” (Wheatley, M. & Kellner-Rogers, M. a simpler way, pg. 53, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1996)
In another of her books, she writes this, “How will we navigate these times? The answer is, together. We need each other differently now. We cannot hide behind our boundaries, or hold onto the belief that we can survive alone. We need each other to test out ideas, to share what we’re learning, to help us see in new ways, to listen to our stories. We need each other to forgive us when we fail, to trust us with their dreams, to offer their hope when we’ve lost our own.” (Wheatley, M. Leadership and the New Science, pg. 174, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1999).
For those who are concerned about the future, Pope Francis has this powerful message of hope, “To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn't lock itself into darkness, that doesn't dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. … It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you.”
I hope you will have a chance to listen to Pope Francis, incorporating his challenge into your daily lives as well as in your roles as church ministry leaders. Many blessings on your journey.