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Pope Francis Preaches Solidarity and Tenderness at TED

Catholics, students of the Italian language, and moral thinkers everywhere should find this TED talk of interest:

Pope Francis didn’t put on the headset and stride around the Vancouver stage beneath an electronic slideshow. He did submit this 18-minute recorded message that’s worth quoting. Some highlights from the English translation [by Elena Montrasio, reviewed and posted by TED]:

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.

So much for rugged individualism.

As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: “Why them and not me?” I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people. And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: “Why them and not me?”

Pope Francis’s father was part of a wave of seven million immigrants who came to Argentina between 1870 and 1930 and built the economy.

First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that 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. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.

This while the leader of the free world dismantles his state with vacant jobs and bigger deficits.

Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.

And this brings me to my second message. 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.

Techno-materialism will not save us. Driving bigger trucks and burning fuel into showy clouds of black smoke is waste, not power. Manhood—personhood—lies in solidarity, in a consideration of the other, including future others, which demands stewardship, not unrestrained consumption.

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.”

Meanwhile the American President is a profoundly self-absorbed man who admits he has spent his life engaged unapologetically in heartless business and who seems surprised by the recognition that government affects people.

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.

The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies,” says Pope Francis in his conclusion. However, his message about true strength in tenderness and solidarity should prove very useful in the hands of politicians, veteran and rookie, who can use it to critique the ills of the current American regime. Sharing and living Pope Francis’s words is part of making America human again.


  1. Jenny 2017-04-27

    The Pope is a good Socialist.

  2. Porter Lansing 2017-04-27

    This Pope is speaking of the greasy pole Republican politics. Pushing down those around you and above you to get your fat butt up the pole.

  3. jerry 2017-04-27

    All religions are good socialists You can go down the list from Christian to Islam to see how socialist ideas and practices are the foundations of all religions. We are indeed our brother’s keeper.

  4. Joe Nelson 2017-04-27

    Socialist? Rather that whatever economic structure one finds themselves, it should be order to the good of the community.

    CCC 2426 The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community. Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man.

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