Last week, Pope Francis made a daring, improvised speech regarding the doomed global economic system after hearing from an emotional unemployed worker in Cagliari, Italy. The unemployed man, a 45-year-old married father of three, shuddered as he described the horrors of unemployment and its sinister results. “[Unemployment] oppresses you and wears you out to the depths of your soul.”
In response to the moving plea, a passionate Pope Francis disregarded his set speech and spoke to the people of Cagliari in both an intimate and astute matter. "I find suffering here...It weakens you and robs you of hope," the Pope said. “Excuse me if I use strong words, but where there is no work there is no dignity.”
Later, the Pope would go on to celebrate Mass with around 300,000 people in attendance outside the city’s cathedral. There, the bold Pope announced to his audience, "We don't want this globalized economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the center as God wants, not money." The crowd was, of course, very reactive, cheering and applauding for the latest global leader of the Catholic Church. In appreciation of his former words, the Pope ended on a sort of conclusion of thought stating, "The world has become an idolator of this god called money."
“This God Called Money.”
While I realize he is far from the first religious figure to claim that material goods poison man’s thoughts (shout out to Buddha), Pope Francis does have a point. We live in a society where money is the end game to nearly everything. For that matter, wouldn’t money really become a sort of deity? It motivates people to do things they most likely would never do otherwise, forces them into a daily servitude for this higher calling, and even crafts divides in our society for those who are more “holy” (have more money).
Now, although I’m not saying we need to live in a world where no one cares about money, I think the Pope has a point when he says, “Men and women have to be at the center…not money.” The Pope calls for a human-ification of sorts, which seems necessary after the disastrous 2008 economic downfall. In America alone, 2.6 million people lost their jobs in a matter of one year in the wake of pure speculative greed. And while we slowly crawl out of this modern depression, characters like Bernie Madoff seem to be mocked by the American media, yet perhaps the most fearful element is that Madoff simply reflected a system that prioritizes money over human life.
While the Pope’s statements last week were directed at the older generations, I think, as a whole, Generation-Y needs to take his words to heart. As we’ve heard over and over again, our generation is supposedly the first to face a potentially worse life condition than our parents. Worse regarding the relative poor financial system we are all struggling through, whether it’s the social security situation, the huge amounts of debt we’re piling up, or the total grotesque state of modern employment.
What I think our generation can take from the Pope’s statements is that, while profits and money will always drive business, human capital needs to be valued at the same consistency of the latter assets. As we redeem the sins of our fathers, I believe this, above all, is a value we must embed deep into our newfound ideology.
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