Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.

TriceEdneyAs much as I wanted to sleep on the morning Pope Francis spoke to Congress, I forced myself to get up to go to the National Mall to hear what he had to say.  What a treat!  He spoke on nearly all the issues of concern to me.  I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be there.  He spoke inspiring words, and words about our obligation.

He talked about our common responsibility to care for one another and for our continent.  To Congress he said, “You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you”. 

If even a little bit of that message rubbed off on the blockers of progress, one can only imagine how much progress we could make in unity!  Surely this recalcitrant Congress needed that message.

The Pope spoke directly to the Congress, but he didn’t let the rest of us off the hook on our responsibilities when he said he was speaking to the entire people of the U.S.  He spoke of the elderly as a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience as someone who should share their stories and their insights to build up this land. He addressed young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations.

He talked about men and women, for all their many differences and limitations who were able by hard work and self-sacrifice — some at the cost of their lives — to build a better future.  “A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward and to do so with dignity”, he said.  He applauded the work of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

He talked about our world being increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God. He said that our response must …be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice—that we should be about restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and promoting the well-being of all. He said we should move forward together in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

He reminded us of the simple Golden Rule by which we should live:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” , and challenged us to treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated, to seek for others the same possibilities we seek for ourselves.  He said, “The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us”.

He spoke of the fight against hunger and poverty and of protecting nature.  He spoke about immigration stating that we all came from somewhere else!  He concluded with the pronouncement that we can all make a difference with courageous actions and strategies aimed at implementing a “culture of care”.

Lord, I pray that the Republicans and other Obama haters were listening! I pray that every evil doer was listening. I pray that all of us found inspiration to do better. So many people are willing to talk the talk, but few can be depended upon to walk the walk. Life is so much simpler when we take heed to what the Pope said.

Dr. E. Faye Williams can be reached at www.nationalcongressbw.org