Pope Francis calling for a ‘Revolution of Tenderness’

Ashley McCann, Opinions Editor

Pope Francis made a surprise appearance at the TED 2017 Conference April 25 in Vancouver, Canada. The title of the conference, “The Future You,” inspired Francis to discuss his own experiences as a member of a family of migrants and the existence of hope in the world.

In his speech, Francis acknowledged the possibilities of his circumstances growing up. During his earlier years, Francis met many people who lost everything, and even now, when Francis meets people who are suffering, he asks himself “Why them and not me?” However, according to Francis, discerning the answer to this question is not a matter of “me” or “my” – it’s a matter of assessing the ways in which people are connected to one another.

This connection, as Francis identified, yearns for more “equality and social inclusion,” a task that Francis addresses to science. “How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us? How wonderful would it be if solidarity…were not simply reduced to social work,” said Francis.

This call to tenderness and compassion accompanies Francis’ identification of the human capacity to “react against evil.” This reaction could lead to a revolution that begins with hope.

For Francis, the hopes and actions of one person are enough to inspire change. It is important to remember that a single individual’s aspirations may lead to the cultivation of aspirations in others.  “The future… is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others,” said Francis.

“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,” said Francis.

The world is in a very turbulent state. While there is much to be celebrated this year, it is important to reflect on the many tribulations that plague the world. An oppressive dictator bombed his own people. The leader of the allegedly most progressive country in the world wants to build barriers around human beings like cattle.

While there is much to celebrate, there is also a lot that needs to be criticized and addressed. As members of a collegiate community, we represent a powerful generation of future leaders. It is our responsibility to celebrate the victories and address the situations that fall short.

“Life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions,” said Francis. What will you do to cultivate better relationships with others through meaningful interactions? What will you do to create more inclusive communities and tender, compassionate environments that work against evil?

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