We need the wisdom to be able to welcome the truth – Pope Francis

Pope Francis waves before departing Tokyo for Rome at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan November 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

On the 54th world day of communication, Pope Francis’ gaze fixed itself firmly on humankind’s innate need to tell stories “Human beings are storytellers” underlined the Pope who said that stories help humanity both in the narration of its history as well as helping it to make sense of the world around it. Pope Francis observed that as clothes are woven to provide protection for the body, so too, words are woven to provide protection to thoughts, ideas, cultures, behaviours and so much more.

“Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us. A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze. A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another” wrote Pope Francis.

Good stories, not fake stories says the Pope

The message penned by the Pope, at a time when the mediatic communication is plagued not only by fake and deep fake news but also by a manner of abrasive, hurtful and downright wicked communication, emphasises the need to weave the “…good stories. Stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together”. Pope Francis underscores that good, genuine and sincerely motivated communication is something that builds and strengthens humanity. Pope Francis gives good communication the characteristics of ‘humility’ and ‘in search of truth’, communication which looks at events ‘with a tender gaze’ reminding all humanity that it is ‘part of a living and interconnected tapestry’. For, as the Pope so aptly put it: “…no one is an extra on the world stage, and everyone’s story is open to possible change.”

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Film buffs would certainly recall the George Stevens production, the movie ‘The greatest story ever told’. This seemed to be Pope Francis’ leitmotif when he spoke of the Bible as a collection of stories which put together what and who we are in the eyes of God. Pope Francis speaks of a God who is both creator and narrator “Indeed, God speaks his word and things come into existence”. This God wrote the Pope, whose communication led to the formation of humanity, extends His dialogue and “communicates with us through the story of life”.

The temptation of fake and evil news

Pope Francis dedicates an important part of his document to destructive storytelling. Using the same direct approach which he uses in his homilies at Santa Marta, one can almost hear Francis’ voice enunciating “In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated, reaching exponential levels (as in deepfake), we need the wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true and good stories. We need the courage to reject false and evil stories. We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles. We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life”.

Conclusion

For Pope Francis, communication “is not a matter of simply telling stories as such, or of advertising ourselves, but rather of remembering who and what we are in God’s eyes”. He concluded his message by exhorting Christians to “ entrust ourselves to a woman who knit together in her womb the humanity of God and, the Gospel tells us, wove together the events of her life”.