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Pushing Toward Tenderness: A TED Talk from the Pope
One of my first major projects at IJM was contributing to the team tasked with supporting our founder and CEO, Gary Haugen, as he prepared to take the TED stage and tell the world why we must stop everyday violence if we want to make a difference in the work of development. Two years and one-and-a-half million views later, another call to action in compassion has sounded from that red, global platform in the form of a live-streamed video address from Pope Francis.
How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us.
Pointing to the stars, the pontiff also directed our gaze to the needs of those around us. Space exploration has long proven a unifying point across times and peoples. On the same morning that the internet community gained access to Pope Francis’s address, the news spread that after nearly twenty years in space, Cassini, a NASA unmanned spacecraft, will make its grand finale, having provided us with critical and unprecedented data about worlds unknown. Our progress into the wide beyond should come with progress in that which is close at hand.
Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.
It was refreshing and powerful to see a world leader using his voice to invite us to reassess and realign our connections, one to another.
The words of His Holiness echo the reminder of mutuality from Martin Luther King, Jr., that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." And a victory over injustice anywhere is a victory for justice everywhere. For those of us in the movement to end slavery and other forms of violent injustice, this tells me we're in the right place, in the right fight—and that we need to keep pushing on.
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.
We need to keep pushing on, said Pope Francis, into a revolution of tenderness, made up of those who can see beyond the “I’s” and the “You’s” to an “Us.” This is not a movement of weakness or ambiguity. Tenderness belongs to those courageous enough to live the strength of their convictions, who act in solidarity because they know that, “Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act,” in the famous words of Albert Einstein.
Tenderness belongs to those who find out that children are experiencing the evil of cybersex trafficking, and cannot stand by.
Tenderness belongs to those who rejoice with people who were trapped in bonded labor slavery being rescued and given their freedom.
Tenderness belongs to those who use their time and their voices and their resources to make slavery a true thing of the past.
Tenderness belongs to Us. Let’s keep pushing on.