The Duchess and the Pope:

 Let’s Listen Carefully to Their Messages:  Are You OK?

By Shlomo Maital  

Meghan                   &                  Pope Francis

  On two consecutive days, Nov. 25 and 26, the New York Times ran Op-Ed essays by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Pope Francis.  By coincidence only, these two powerful messages coincide and complement each other.  Here is a short summary, in case you missed them.  Just for background:  Meghan, married to Prince Harry, younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, was hounded out of Britain by racist tabloids (she is mixed race).

    Meghan recounts how, touring in South Africa with Harry, a journalist asked her a very unusual question:   Are you OK?  She was tired, hassled, not OK – but journalists pursuing racy stories were rarely interested in her wellbeing, as a person.  The question touched her.  Here is what she writes:

     “So this Thanksgiving, as we plan for a holiday unlike any before — many of us separated from our loved ones, alone, sick, scared, divided and perhaps struggling to find something, anything, to be grateful for — let us commit to asking others, “Are you OK?” As much as we may disagree, as physically distanced as we may be, the truth is that we are more connected than ever because of all we have individually and collectively endured this year.  We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes — sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears. For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another.

    Are we OK?  We will be.”

     Yes – we are OK, many of us.   Many are not – but they will be, if we ask them how they are, and do small and big things to make them OK. 

     And the Pope?  Here is his message, taken from a forthcoming book: 

       “The coronavirus crisis may seem special because it affects most of humankind. But it is special only in how visible it is. There are a thousand other crises that are just as dire, but are just far enough from some of us that we can act as if they don’t exist. Think, for example, of the wars scattered across different parts of the world; of the production and trade in weapons; of the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing poverty, hunger and lack of opportunity; of climate change. These tragedies may seem distant from us, as part of the daily news that, sadly, fails to move us to change our agendas and priorities. But like the Covid-19 crisis, they affect the whole of humanity.  Look at us now: We put on face masks to protect ourselves and others from a virus we can’t see. But what about all those other unseen viruses we need to protect ourselves from? How will we deal with the hidden pandemics of this world, the pandemics of hunger and violence and climate change?    If we are to come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in, we have to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain.     This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities — what we value, what we want, what we seek — and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.”

   We have to let ourselves be touched by others’ pain.  And act, however we can, to diminish it. 

    The Pope and the Duchess.  Words to live by.