I am quite a fan of TEDtalks – there have been many fabulous talks and enlightening speakers presenting on a wide-range of subjects from surviving a suicide attempt to becoming an activist, with almost every conceivable topic in-between.
Strangely enough religious leaders often do not make the best speakers, regardless of the topic they’re exploring. Pope Francis though, unlike his immediate predecessor, has an engaging, well-grounded and warm personality that brings to life the subjects he passionately cares about. His delivery is straightforward, as are his public messages; they are not couched in convoluted theological language. In this respect, I often feel that there is a clear parallel between the incumbent Archbishop of Canterbury and his predecessor.
Anyway, I digress! Francis’ TEDtalk is not delivered from the typical TED stage; instead he talks from behind a desk in the Vatican. His message is simple – change starts with individuals; hope begins in the individual heart. From that starting point, hope and solidarity with ‘the other’, those who are marginalised and powerless becomes a powerful possibility. In-so-doing he makes the point that there is really no difference between us – we are all loved by God in our uniqueness and imperfection.
That said, Francis reminds us that the powerful….the significant in worldly terms……are especially tasked by God to use their wealth and influence in ways that bind us together rather than pull us apart.
That our world is in a mess, largely because we have ignored the radical message of Christianity and settled for something that is, in many ways radically exclusive and uncaring, is obvious. Our world is fractious and riddled with war and cruelty in myriad forms.
But Pope Francis provides a timely reminder that each and every one of us, regardless of creed, can harness the power of hope and promote equality, solidarity and tenderness. His call, in essence a reminder that we all need each other and that none of us exists in isolation. In that respect he echoes, in his own words, that wonderful Ubuntu saying, ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’ Hope demands therefore that we should all be ‘team players’, constantly looking at ways to co-operate with each other for the greater good of all.
Never has Pope Francis’ plea, “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the ‘other’ is not a statistic, or a number,” been more important than it is today. How we work that ethic out in practise in a complex and perplexing world is another matter. But then again, we need simply start with ourselves, reflecting on the work that needs done within us and amongst us – the rest will unfold against the universal backdrop of hope and love.
You can make your own mind up by watching the whole presentation here: