“An extraordinary appeal by one of the great faith leaders for inclusion of all ‘discarded’ people. It’s an affirmation of our inter-connectedness across this fragile planet, and a call to look inwards and heal the divisions in our own hearts.” This was the welcome by OneSpirit’s focaliser Nicola Coombe for the TED Talk last week by Pope Francis.

“This talk will be an inspiration to all sacred activists,” she said, “and everyone who longs for this emerging, inclusive, global sense of spirituality and solidarity. It’s clear Pope Francis is addressing all the peoples of the world, and his message is relevant to us all. It would be wonderful if more leaders of the world’s religions were also to speak in this way.”

The very title of The Pope’s talk, Why the only future worth building includes everyone, announced his inclusive agenda in the video (click the link to view), recorded in the Vatican and broadcast at a TED Talks conference in Vancouver on 26 April 2017. Transcripts of the talk are available on the TED website in 23 languages so far (scroll to below the video window).

“Everything is connected,” said Pope Francis, “and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.” Key to this, he said, is healing our own hearts. “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, a flare deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.”

Referring to science, he said: “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.”

Francis observed: “Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary.” He continued: “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?”

In a talk almost devoid of theology, he made Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan his central metaphor. “The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity,” he said, adding that: “…. 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.”

“We are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God,” said Francis. And each has the potential to make a difference: “Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.”

He continued: “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. And then there will be another “you,” and another “you,” and it turns into an “us”…. When there is an “us,” there begins a revolution.”

The Pope spoke of “the revolution of tenderness”. “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. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth.”

“Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women,” said Francis. Within a week, his talk had already been viewed by 1.7 million people.

Author: Rob MacLachlan
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