Pope Francis has been featured in a lot of headlines lately, as he’s become a popular beacon of light for many non-Christians because he preaches equality and kindness, offering a very different (and frankly more compassionate) perspective than previous Popes. This has caused some confusion, given that the Vatican is perceived negatively by man due to its ties to sexual abuse, inequality, knowledge suppression, and more.
Nevertheless, Pope Francis has an important message for us all, which is that we need a “revolution of tenderness.” This time around, his message came by way of a surprise video that aired at the international TED conference Tuesday evening. Pope Francis delivered this message in front of a room full of scientists, academics, tech innovators, investors, and cultural elites.
Pope Francis’ TED Talk on Tenderness and Hope
The Pope started off the TED Talk by explaining our deep connection to one another, stating, “Each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.”
“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?’ ” he continued.
This is a question many of us face: Why are we so blessed while so many people suffer? There are so many extremities in this dualistic world we live in, and it can be easy to get caught up in them. Of course, there are many explanations like soul contracts, karmic relations, past lifetimes, or simply unfortunate circumstance, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for equality.
“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.”
Pope Francis even brings science into the equation, just as many other prominent religious figures and monks have in the past. “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,” he explains.
The fact that everything is connected has been proven time and time again in quantum physics; even the Dalai Lama has expressed this. You can read more about how science and spirituality are intertwined here.
“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?” the Pope continued.
The Pope could simply be referring to the brothers and sisters we have residing on this planet, though his question seems to be addressing extraterrestrial (ET) life and how we’d treat them. This wouldn’t be the first time the Vatican has hinted at the existence of ETs, and Pope Francis himself has spoken about “beings of the universe.” You can read more about the link between the Vatican and ETs here and here.
The Pope goes on to speak of solidarity and how we need to achieve it. We cannot just look at it in terms of social responsibility, but rather as the basis and the underlying framework for politics, economics, and our everyday interactions. Would there even be a need for a singular government if solidarity existed?
The Pope continues to say that through true solidarity, we could actually overcome our “disposable” attitudes toward food, the environment, and each other. He explains that solidarity cannot just be achieved through control mechanisms, nor can it be taught, but rather, it must be found within the heart.
“Love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?” he asks.
Throughout his speech, Pope Francis continually highlights the importance of memory when discussing how we can reconnect to solidarity and love, as we just need to trigger ourselves to remember the inherent love within us.
Perhaps the most interesting part of his talk was when he told the Parable of the Good Samaritan. As the story goes, a man who was beaten and robbed was left on the streets to suffer. A Priest and a Levite, two influential people at the time, walked by the man without offering to help; but, when a Samaritan walked by, an ethnicity that used to be looked down upon, he felt compassion for this man and stopped to help him. Jesus allegedly used this parable to explain to people that being a good person means you have compassion for all, regardless of your status.
Many people who follow Christianity choose to only abide by the staunch commandments and old belief systems taught by the religion, further perpetuating separatism, racism, and inequality. This often includes the people who are considered to be at the top of the chain like popes and priests. It’s fascinating that the Pope chose to mention this parable, as it paints a more negative light upon the “higher members” of the Christian faith.
“Each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around,” Pope Francis continues.
“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.”
The New Age movement, Buddhism, and other spiritual texts often encourage only focusing on the present, which is beautiful. Ultimately, once you realize that time is an illusion, the present moment is really all that is. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from your past nor does it mean you can’t visualize the future and shouldn’t strive to create a better one for yourself and all of humanity. Part of focusing on the present moment includes creating your own reality and redefining your future, because the present affects the future, just as the past affects the present, because time is non-linear!
The third part of the Pope’s speech addressed the need for what he calls “a revolution of tenderness,” which is essentially a strong form of compassion and love for all. He describes a variety of examples of tenderness, including when a parent adapts their speech to talk to young children. They essentially lower their communication level in order to explain concepts to them.
Though I do believe that children deserve more honest communication when it comes to dealing with more difficult topics, I think that his definition of tenderness speaks to the importance of being able to accept all levels of consciousness and learning to guide people without belittling them. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to educate people, but rather that we can do so with more compassion and understanding. Tenderness can be used as a tool to create positive change in a more loving, peaceful manner.
You can watch Pope Francis’ full speech here:
It’s no secret that the Vatican has a dark past, one that’s filled with sex scandals, secrecy, and other crimes. In fact, the Vatican has paid approximately $4 billion to settle child molestation cases, and these are only the publicly known incidents. For years, children have suffered at the hands of child predators who remain safe in the authority of the Christian faith. So, if you’re skeptical of Pope Francis’ words, that’s completely understandable.
However, it’s important to remember that change can come from within, meaning he could represent the shift we want to see within the Vatican. Yes, his words could be a PR stunt, but they could also be genuine and honest. Either way, he’s clearly inspiring people to be more compassionate and kind to others, which is beautiful!
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