The new Pope’s personal, proven and life-long humility and simplicity will attract the unbelievers and retain the faithful as we re-enter the Great Gatsby era anew as 2020 approaches. I’m blessed, for I learned first hand from my late great Hindu parents the core connector amongst great religions: to do good, to take the hard road, to honor our elders and obligations, and inter alia, walk humbly with thy God.
My Dad always used to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling’s “If”: “walk with Kings, but never lose the common touch.” The Jesuits’ teachings, including, at Fordham Law School, great Judaic scholars and Islam’s poetry, and Buddha’s serenity, all helped too. Mahatma Gandhi’s personal religious confidence, a necessary element to be able to genuinely honor others’ religious beliefs, by having his home’s windows open to all faiths without being blown away, but rather enhanced to find common purpose – help the powerless, the hurt, and the hungry. Also instructive was power’s repeated breach of fiduciary duty, so well recorded in history, that History has earned a “D” grade.
The distilled lesson I have learned, till now, is to have a Monk’s horsehair habit around one’s soul while immersed in the roller coaster of life’s ups and downs – be it business lunching at Le Cirque or having simple “dal,” lentils, and finding the latter more satisfying at times but always “grounding.” It is akin to being a generational escrow agent in the relay race of life itself, one generation to the next.
Someday, religions, one to the other, science, and sovereignty will have to find a “sweet spot” of harmonious coexistence but only when they are dedicated to helping humanity, whom each serves and why each exists, and not human “opinion,” even as it masquerades as the “ultimate truth.” Until then, let patriotism, which can be so easily mis-calibrated, be married to the twin parents of American exceptionalism. Patriotism is well defined by Nathaniel Hale’s bemoaning that he had but one life to give for his country.
The twin parents are: Patrick Henry, when he protected, to his death, a right of another to disagree with him – and as a result fathered the First Amendment and consequentially, “Freedoms” generally; and Separated Powers regime in the United States’ Constitution as a recipe to harness selfenlightened interests of power, break it apart on purpose, and force a rejoinder, on an ad hoc basis, so as to obtain the highest possible public good. Holy Father, Pope Francis, is God-sent to restore to Mother Church its stain-free mission to help all, especially the young and vulnerable, and find the “sweet spot” between dogma, science, and sovereignty. Mother Teresa, I know is already a die-hard fan of the new Holy Father, as am I.