I have generally not been a huge fan of organized religion, but Pope Francis’s visit to America last week was riveting. To see the Speaker of the House moved to tears, and the joy it brought so many people was indeed a nice change from the typical media stories of political fighting and international crises. But more than that, it was the man and what he had to say that made me stop and listen. I’m sure that there have been many great Popes before him, but none that made me repeatedly shake my head in agreement. I am in agreement that human life is valuable and that all of us form the world community and that we all should take care of each other and the world. I believe in acknowledging what we have done wrong and saying I’m sorry. Acknowledging our errors and apologizing sincerely can help to heal many wounds. Wounds can be passed on from generation to generation without this occurring. It takes great strength to apologize. And what courage to both do that, and really mix among the people, refuse the limo and touch the people. What healing can occur for many in his church by watching his example and accepting that apology for transgressions that have occurred.
All of us are immigrants. All of us came from somewhere, most of us from other Continents. None of us would have survived without the help of others who took us into their communities, taught us the language and the ways. As a nation, we’ve always done this and as a result we are always evolving. The opportunities are here if we will only work for them. Persistence is important. There are an awful lot of us, and many with many talents. Each of us has the ability to find some measure of love and success. Love starts with loving and respecting ourselves and each other. People are drawn to those who try hard and appreciate what they have. Others want to help those kind of people. Which is the exact opposite of feeling entitled or bitter and angry or name calling and judgment. What type of person do you want to help? What kind of person repels you?
I hope the Pope’s trip to America will open some new dialogues of how we take care of one another. We can’t call ourselves an educated, religious, and rich people and then ignore, displace, or otherwise degrade our neighbors. I hope it also calls to mind that this earth is precious and deserves our care and respect as well. In the name of money, we participate in many practices in this country that cause great harm to our environment. Our responsibility is not only for ourselves and our family, but is for our neighbors and for our planet. I feel inspired by this Pope, by this wise religious man. I hope others will as well.