Late last week, I was working in Manila, which coincided with the Pope’s visit. Now, I have been in cities when dignitaries visited: Nelson Mandela’s first UN visit in 1994; George Bush’s post 9/11 World Trade Center site visit; and Bill Clinton’s visit to Singapore in 2005. But I have never seen anything resembling what I saw when the Pope visited Manila.
Millions of Filipinos lined the streets to see the Pope as he moved between appearances at Malacañang Palace, Mall of Asia, Manila Cathedral and Rizal Park. Major roads were shut down. Flights cancelled. Airport terminals were closed. Commemorative t-shirts, handbags, beer mugs and adult diapers were made and hawked. And for the length of his visit, the government declared a public holiday in Manila.
It was an enormous spectacle of biblical proportions.
But through all the hoopla and pageantry, the Pope kept it real and dispensed with insightful advice and outlined his view on what ails people in the Philippines and all over the world. To list everything he said would be too long for this blog entry. In my opinion, these are the top 3:
“Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.’ If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal … In this way people are thrown aside as if they were trash.”
I am guilty of this.
We live in a world of “stuff” and the attainment of that “stuff” consumes our lives. As a result we lose track of humanity, our family, and our friends. And not only are we fostering a “culture of waste” but also a “disposable society“.
Keep things in perspective and caring for others should be the top priority.
“The perfect family doesn’t exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let’s not talk about the perfect mother-in-law! It’s just us sinners. A healthy family life requires frequent use of three phrases: ‘May I? Thank you, and I’m sorry’ and never, never, never end the day without making peace.”
Not much else needs to be said about this.
Making a family strong and sustainable takes hard work, commitment and suppression of ego. Like most things: what you get out of your family is in proportion to what you put in.
“Modern society should be respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given dignity and rights.”
Basically, this is a plea for all of us to get along.
People are hurting other people for no apparent reason other then the differences in skin color, religion, sexual orientation, etc. We are all human beings; respect that; and we will be able to create better communities and better societies.
The Pope’s messages and insights need to be repeated and repeated often. And it doesn’t matter if you are red, yellow, white, black or brown: these messages are universal.
For some, the Pope’s Manila visit was an inconvenience and distraction but I think the positives far outweighed the negatives. It is priceless when a world leader inspires all of us to be better people; to be better fathers, mothers, sons and daughters; and to create a better world.
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