The Importance of Recognising Transformational Times
Both globally and personally
This post contains extracts from His Holiness Pope Francis’ TED Talk from April this year, entitled The Future You.
While I definitely wouldn’t call myself a Catholic (not a fan of all the guilt), Pope Francis’ words really made an impression.
You can feel it, can’t you?
All this pushing and pulling. People everywhere are antsy, curious, frustrated. Seeking something more.
Whichever side or country or party you come from, the dominant sentiment seems to be:
Surely we can do better than this?
Especially for those who have known nothing but year after year of having their arses kicked by people better off than they are.
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?”
In nature, there is change.
In nature, a species evolves.
For many of us the natural instinct is to try and get off these shifting sands as soon as possible. To get back to a place of safety, if we ever had one. There is a certain knowing that something is coming, but an uncertainty as to what that something is. The soul craves for faith, perhaps, in our future. But for many of us, that faith is not only absent, but accompanied by a mounting sense of responsibility, and a desperate need for direction. Taking action means so many different things to so many different people.
Timor-Leste is a country in its infancy. The old meets the new, often with volatile immediacy, and the power of transformation can be seen everywhere.
In art, transformational times can be duplicitous. You are tired of the old. But you are afraid of the new.
If you fight against it, you feel stuck, anxious, wretched. There is a deadness to it. Nothing grows. It’s like banging your head against a wall. The fear of what could go wrong ends up crippling you completely.
But if this transformational state is accepted, embraced, received with gratitude, the most wonderfully intense creativity begins to flow. Places open up inside that you never even knew existed. And that’s when things really start to happen.
Some believe that the transformational times we find ourselves in are just another in a series of many. Currently, we can add an ominous sense of urgency into the mix, as the human beings alive today confront the fact that they may be responsible for whether or not our race survives. Parents wonder what kind of future lies ahead for their children. Our situation is unique.
Hope can vanish, especially for those most in need. There is an instinct to protect oneself, to close the door to what’s going on out there, to retreat to safety. To do what you ‘know’ works.
Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve. While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they are not invincible. They can be overcome when we don’t lock our door to the outside world.
Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component.
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.
And this is where the creative fire comes in, in order for us to accept, to embrace, to fully experience this time as a race.
Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough.
In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity. Yes, love does require a creative, concrete and ingenious attitude.
Pope Francis is talking about embracing the unknown, letting go of what we have been taught to fear, and entering into a creative phase, together, driven by love.
Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The “you” is always a real presence, a person to take care of.
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.” And so, does hope begin when we have an “us?” No. Hope began with one “you.”
When there is an “us,” there begins a revolution.
I hear echoes of Corbyn’s for the many, not the few, in the Pope’s closing words. They are words I hear echoed everywhere. The secret to unlocking the door to our future, lies within every single one of us.
We just need to remember how powerful we really are.