Just when I lost all hope for humanity and popular journalism…Pope Francis is named TIME’s Person of the Year for 2013. Hallelujah and amen!
I am not angry, upset or outraged that Miley Cyrus made the short list of nominees for the position. After all, TIME’s Person of the Year is supposed to be the person who had the greatest influence — good or bad — on the world for that year. Adolf Hitler once held the position, not because he was a humanitarian but because of the undeniable influence he had on the world. So, with the true meaning of the title in mind, Miley Cyrus indeed belonged on the short list. And that made me sad. We simultaneously condemned and worshiped her hyper-sexualized behavior. Whether you find it acceptable, laughable or nauseating, the attention that was given to this display reinforces — in BOLD CAPS — that if you behave this way, you’ll get attention, you’ll be the topic of conversation and you’ll get rewarded…faster and larger than a display of talent. Case and point, Miley’s single “Wrecking Ball” is a solid song that shows off her beautiful voice…yet rather than millions talking about how rich and mature her voice has gotten and how well she was able to express the range of emotions the lyrics suggest, the talk is all about her riding a wrecking ball in the nude or twerking with a wagging tongue on the VMAs. Intentional or not, Miley Cyrus is a role model and seeing what works on her path of success will have others following it. And as a society…sadly…we do.
Pope Francis is the antithesis of bad behavior. He is utilizing his intentionally influential position to get back to basics. One of the reasons Catholicism and Christianity has endured is that compassion is at the core of Jesus’s experience on earth. Whether you accept him as your personal savior or not, the stories of loving kindness as he visited the lepers is truly moving. Implementing the Golden Rule in your interactions with all of those around is a great way to live, no matter your faith, nationality or social stature. After everything that has occurred over the last number of years in the Catholic Church that caused a wedge between it and regular folks like us, Pope Francis, in his gentle, quiet way is bringing it — and God willing all of us — back to its core. I only hope that this example that Pope Francis is setting is as influential on the world as twerking has been.
Congratulations to Pope Francis — and to us all — for being named TIME’s Person of the Year 2013.