THE POPE’S WORDS

Catholics, the curious, backsliders, and nosey-parkers are all agog over the coming visit of Pope Francis on January 15 until 19. News on TV regularly carry snippets on him – i.e. trivial information about his love for the sensual dance tango and his unrequited love – and ways to get to communicate with him via Twitter with the accompanying hash tag (which I forget). Now, recently, I read a feature on rappler.com about his famous quotes, which could very well double up as anyone’s list of New Year resolutions. I am far from being religious, but this Pope has had me listening to – and reading – what he has to say to his constituents because he, I observed, goes beyond the usual route of annoying obscurantism and self-conceited ways that most religious leaders take. To borrow my former editor’s words, he calls a spade a spade and does not seem caught up with the “perks” of his new role. He, apparently, eschews the trappings of his all-powerful position and prefers to focus on the tasks at hand, which is to lead by example and to follow what he preaches.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

There are about 10 resolutions on Pope Francis’s list, but these are the ones that resonate with me. “Not engaging in gossip” heads the list in the feature. Idle chatter is certainly the way of idle minds, but gossip can’t be avoided as events happen, people do things, and people talk. Even if one, for instance, keeps a low profile and quietly does his/her job, people still talk, so, taking the bull by its horns, people should just ignore the scuttlebutt about them, as the truth will surface eventually. Or face it head-on by confronting the rumour-mongers, but with equanimity. Give them a piece of your mind, which will make them think more than twice about opening their mouths. To think that these quidnuncs will suddenly develop a conscience is foolishness, to say the least.

Admonishing people to “finish their meals” sits well by me because there are a lot of people barely able to keep body and soul together, so wasting food is sacrilegious. Being a teacher, this attitude of not being profligate applies to everyone and goes hand-in-hand with lessons on being responsible and satisfied. For instance, it is now a trend to buy the exorbitantly priced iPhone 6. If one still has an old smart phone functioning, why is there a need to upgrade when all they will presumably do is download games and applications, upload to Instagram, search the Net etc.? In the case of some people I know, buying isn’t the issue inasmuch as the lack of responsibility towards their things. Losing an expensive gadget isn’t a cause for alarm because it can easily be replaced by their parents who are more than willing to ply them with the latest gadgets in lieu of the quality time spent with them. The other half buys for status. This cycle remains unbroken simply because of this unfathomable excessive want that is dovetailed with nonchalance.

Being simple is something I wholeheartedly agree with the Pope. He advises people to “choose the more humble purchase”. There is no need to keep up with the Joneses in this age of materialism. Actually, why should you keep up with the Joneses? Don’t get me wrong – I shop every now and then, and would love to buy Gucci products, for instance, but then rationale thinking hits me and I usually end up buying something else and having spare change to boot. I just need to remember this resolution a little more than usual for 2015 and bundle it up with the mantra, “if you can’t pay it with cash (or in lump sum), you can’t afford it”.

Image courtesy of Anusom P nachol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Anusom P nachol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The last is “Make time for others”. I have tried to keep in touch people I hold dearly in my heart even before the advent of e-mail and texting. Sadly, some of the people I know hold this resolution with less conviction than I do. I still remember my former high school best friend that I wrote to relentlessly yet never got a word from her until I came home to Manila and met with her. All I could remember her saying was her asking if I were mad at her for not writing. It was never the same with us. Actually, she had shut out everyone in the gang completely for some reason.

I have had my fair share of friends dropping in and out of my life unceremoniously and this 2015 gives me an inkling it won’t be that different except perhaps for me. That is me being less of the person giving time to people who don’t want my time whether face-to-face or through social media platforms. No recrimination here – I know that there are people meant to stay in my world and there are those who are just passing through. I am dovetailing this resolution with something retweeted from WordPorn – “Forget those who have forgotten you.”

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

So, I have finally come up with a short list of resolutions for the New Year thanks to the Pope. Here is to a smoother 2015 then.

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