In TED talk, Pope says sowing solidarity will reap hope for the future
Referencing his 80 years of life, the Pope opened his talk saying that “quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.”
“We all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent ‘I,’ separated from the other,” he said.
“We can only build the future by standing together, including everyone,” the Pope continued, adding that that while we might not think about it often, “everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.”
“Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me.”
This “flare” embedded deep within our hearts “needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.”
Pope Francis gave his TED Talk April 26 at 3:30a.m. local time in Rome for TED 2017, which is taking place April 24-28 in Vancouver, Canada.
TED is an international media organization that posts brief talks online that are for free distribution and run under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.” The organization was founded in February 1984 as a conference, which has been held annually since 1990.
The talks are typically run between 10-20 minutes, and are given by influential speakers who are experts in various fields such as business, science and technology, among others. Subtitles are available in more than 100 languages.
Pope Francis is the first pontiff to give a TED Talk, however, just days before announcing his resignation in 2013 Benedict XVI was given the “Charter of Compassion” by the organization’s European director, Bruno Giussani.
This year’s TED conference holds the theme “The Future You,” and is dedicated to addressing the pressing questions of our time.
In his talk, which lasted 18 minutes and was filmed inside Vatican City, Pope Francis offered a response to today’s challenges, focusing on how to maintain an attitude of hope through solidarity with one another.
He noted that for many people a happy future is something that seems distant and at times impossible to achieve.
However, while these concerns must be taken seriously, they are not “invincible,” he said, explaining that happiness can be discovered when looking to the harmony that exists between the whole and each individual part.
Francis then moved to his second point, saying it would be ideal if scientific and technological growth were coupled with greater equality and social inclusion.
“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 said.
Only a thorough education in solidarity can overcome the “culture of waste” prevalent in today’s society, turning people’s attention not so much toward goods and food, but toward people.
“Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary,” he said, but noted that solidarity “is not an automatic mechanism.”
“It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone,” he said, explaining that to truly do good to another person, courage, memory and creativity are needed.
“I know that TED gathers many creative minds,” the Pope observed, but stressed that when it comes to developing projects and ideas, “good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough.”
Rather, a concrete and “ingenious” attitude is needed, he said. “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.”
Pope Francis then pointed to the parable of the Good Samaritan, explaining, as he often does, that while the two powerful men of the day ignored the man on the side of the road, it was the Samaritan, a “despised ethnicity” at the time, who had compassion and paid for the man’s healing out of his own pocket.
The story of the Good Samaritan can easily sum up the state of humanity today, Francis said, explaining that many people’s paths are “riddled with suffering,” as if everything centered around money and things, rather than 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.”
Pointing to Mother Teresa, whom he canonized in September 2016, Francis said she is an example of the people who are “creating a new world” based on care for others.
“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?” he asked.
While not everyone can achieve the scale of Mother Teresa or the Good Samaritan, the Pope stressed that we are all precious and irreplaceable in the eyes of God, and that amid today’s conflicts, each of us “can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.”
“To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is hope,” he said, explaining that hope doesn’t mean being “optimistically naïve,” ignoring suffering or dwelling on the past, but is a virtue that is able “to see a tomorrow.”
“Hope is the door that opens onto the future,” he said, noting that it is like the hidden yeast that makes bread grow, and as such “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,” telling conference participants: “that individual can be you.”
“And then there will be another ‘you,’ and another ‘you,’ and it turns into an ‘us,’” he said, explaining that hope begins with a “you,” and when an “us” develops, “there begins a revolution.”
The Pope then repeated his frequent call for a “revolution of tenderness,” which is “the love that comes close and becomes real.”
“Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need,” he said, noting that God himself descended to our level, which is the same thing the Good Samaritan did.
To have tenderness, he said, “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.”
Pointing to a common phrase in Argentina, Francis said “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.”
Pope Francis closed his speech saying the future of humanity isn’t just in the hands of politicians or great leaders or big companies, but is primarily 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, he said. “So, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us.”