Letter to Pope Francis
My Liege (never sent)
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20130322                20131107

Finished March 22, 2013, but not sent as of July 19, 2020.     Note to the Curia: this letter, of course, was written for the new Pope only, as the first footnote repeats. However, I realize any letter or even its ideas must pass through careful and rigorous review before being presented to His Excellency. So the abstract is the bullet several line below. If you read the full letter however, you will see I mean no disrespect to you, because, as stated, it must be for your eyes also. But if you decide the Pope won't see the letter or at least a summary, then I recommend you stop, for my ideas (not words) are meant for him alone that can best act. So I humbly ask that my letter be attached to the file. God bless you all.

To the new Pope
I am your dedicated liege and student, for your position of course, but I also begin to believe for your wisdom as well. I am not Catholic, but catholic, deist, perhaps somewhat pantheist. I am a student of every great person, high or low, and every small person, high or low. From the very brief impressions I get from my newspaper, I have very impertinently entertained a thought that you* may see merit in my suggestion which is to:

► Suggest to people that they give to the needy, not to the church, not to the red cross, not to the charity fund drive at work, but to the needy – themselves - personally.

Of course institutions are and will be needed for such services. But ..... Imagine a world where charity was handed out in person, as a meal, or a bag of groceries, or a bandage, or a ride to the doctor’s office, or payment of the resulting medical bill ----- personally. Imagine 1000 people after work walking the “gang infested” streets in Chicago, my home town, home of our President where a murder or two occurs every day and 100’s of police roam.

Now imagine the 1000 people, good people, with money in their pocket to help the IMMEDIATE need they see, hear, and can touch as they “hang out” on the street corner like the gang members and young mothers, to whom they can then talk with respectfully (see the danger below). This opposed to the current reality where people barricade themselves in their home fortresses and watch TV.** 1000 people today spending an hour, another 1000 today spending another hour, another 1000 tomorrow and tomorrow’s hours. 30,000 people, about 3%, of a city of a million could spend 3 hours a day, 6 on weekends just “being there”. Actually we don’t need to do it “there” we need to do it “here”. There are enough good people wasting time and money on indirection and futility to do it. Some will be killed and anon and anon, but encourage help of the victims and even of the perpetrators and not the hate and punishment of the sinners -- standard Sermon on the Mount teaching, 101. They could follow a police call, for e xample, humbly, carefully, and, if appropriate offer food, and perhaps friendship and company, perhaps even after the person returns from jail. But care must be taken to ensure the objective is not to "help the police", if asked of course, but the objective is to "enjoy the day and do what may." Perhaps no intervention is appropriate that day and you just watch the ambulances drive by with a couple of friends; but, occasionally needs would come your way where help would be welcomed, personal, one-on-one help. The very presence of people, sitting, talking on park benches, strolling the streets, visiting briefly with other stollers would deter much of the “crime” but economic needs would remain. If a child knows some lady sitting in the park might be “good” for a meal, the neighborhood knows. All the lady has to do is tell the child, any child, any person. I guess the appeal here is to get out of our isolated castles of selfish entertainment and go back to the community for our soul’s sustenanc e and peace in the community. And if such a “style” of charity is known, all the more will it be effective and all the more will people join. Perhaps I am utopian.


Danger: Why hasn’t it ever worked before? Help is welcomed, yes, but perhaps only if not accompanied by a ransom, bribe, or a sermon. No contingency. Respect. Charity, not obligation. Gifts, not bribes. That's why I stress "enjoy the day, do what may" as the objective, which is to live life in the community and react to what we can effect personally. Teach us my friend, for the world may soon explode in hate as “we” rich nations attempt to defend our wealth and poor nations beg for more while having enough***; this as we all hypocritically carry the Sermon on the Mount in our pockets, or at least its equivalent from the other great cultures. To change a nation we must first change a neighborhood; to change a neighborhood, a family; a family, a person. Teach us, my friend.

I could humbly say I don't want a reply, but that would be a lie. Your nod would warm my heart while fanning my Achilles' flames. To avoid those flames, I do not sign. I am but a man, an everyman who desires but to know my part. I remain your liege and follow everywhere you trample not my other masters' fields, as them to yours; none who would object to my above suggestion, though some might think it strange.

Your servant always

* This letter of course is written for the Pope’s eyes, and if it make it there, hello, Your Eminence. If you are reading this, it will have passed through many, many, others' eyes and certainly been summarized, classified, and scrutinized. However, it is your reported mingling with the crowds and shunning of regalia that draws me to write to you, personally. As I am sure you know, some in the Curia may sympathize with your style; some may be secretly aghast. Those aghast are probably praying very deeply for guidance right now, as should those in sympathy, as should we all. Either way, your reported actions in contradiction to some Curia traditions is the reason I write. The idea is simple, but it takes someone to say “give less to the church’s property and more to the church’s goals”, so, please excuse me if I am so arrogant as to say this is for your eyes only, translated of course, unless you speak English. And by “only” I mean, the only purpose for which I write is that you may hear my s uggestion, not that only you will or should see it. You probably won’t, almost certainly this part. If a computer doesn’t screen this letter some bureaucrat probably will. If so, this note is for the reviewer. Perhaps some will even say my addressing you directly in the second person, rather than the third is a disrespectful reason for screening, perhaps not. But that gets to the point of my letter that you may understand, as my arrogance presumes. "I - Thou" to quote a close cousin of our common traditions.

**TV presents us with a much distorted picture of the world, greatly overemphasizing some things at the expense of the more common, usual state of affairs. So we have a very false impression of the world, an impression dominated by the rare, violent, and sinful while the actual world is quite cooperative, respectful, and peaceful. Very, very few, other than random accidents that effect all equally, are harmed with pure hearts in the matter of the harm, some of course, but few. Drive on any highway to notice abundant, respectful cooperation; though there are always a few “speeders” and “pokers”. On every nightly news, an accident; one minute of coverage costing pounds of gold, yet in the Chicago “viewing area” today, 200,000,000 miles were driven, cooperatively, respectfully, safely. A fight erupts in Mali, and a housewife in Rosario, Vienna, or Topeka has an opinion of how best to solve the age old conflicts and votes for people who say let’s force them at the point of a gun to accept her sol ution, which isn’t really hers because she saw it in an “All in the Family” episode where “Pighead” had just the perfect solution, “kill ‘em all”. We cover every oddity and then paint the world the same odd colors. People stay inside in false fear, lamenting the terrible state of the world they see “out there”, but really they see “in here”, at home, on TV. Such a loathsome world is thought not good to live in, so we use the same device to escape into an inane self-absorbed entertainment world that is but Shakespeare gelded of any meaning by endless repetition. The TV is never off, music blaring from several other devices, often in ear plugs, driving all other “sense” away, therefore all thought away. Orwell saw the bigger threat in the camera, I see it in the screens and the earphones. And what is threatened? Just my freedom of thought, which I chose, selfishly, to use to thank God for every eternal moment, as I find I have been advised by the wisdom of the ages****. Turn off the TV, get out of the house. Every day, every moment is a choice. Though habit of thought often changes slowly, sometimes quickly. This is yet another appeal that if magically were to be, would greatly advance the goal of my suggestion.

*** Greed is a key obstruction. Every nation in the world, rich and poor, has as its primary policy, economic growth, yet there is more than enough capacity to feed, clothe, and shelter all the world's people . Most countries in fact can also feed all their people with local crops, except within a few ever roving marginal places along the sub tropical climate zones. Perhaps we can't feed everyone with fresh fruit in January but surely sufficient and very healthy bread; perhaps not a three-car garage attached to every house, but surely a safe, secure, warm, roomy place with a stove and a bed for each man, woman, and child. Why need more?

So it seems we have to address greed. Is it possible? I don’t know. Everyone seems to “say” they detest greed, especially in people richer than themselves, and also seem to think themselves quite generous benefactors of those poorer than themselves. Matthew 7:22. I am not sure how to address greed. Perhaps by raising the standard. Current Christian ideas seem to be to tithe about 10% of income, Muslims 20% I heard somewhere. Those "obligations" came from a time when that was a significant portion of a person's "disposable" income after food, clothing, and shelter for a family, maybe all of it. So perhaps a new standard such as 50% or even 75% of such "disposable income" could be a clarion call of attention to Jesus's suggestions. Set the standard not in terms of total income but after life's necessities are taken care of. Of course many will define much more then need as need, such as a telephone, car, computer, and even technologically enhanced expensive health care. So, I implore you, remin d us teacher of the difference between our needs and our wants, and too, I implore, remind us gently with heaven's gifts not hell's torments that yes indeed we will die. I can think of no other way and though I do so with my friends, I often encounter disdain, especially on the death notice, often not; and even remaining disdain seems to soften with familiarity. You have opportunity to talk with a much larger crowd. God bless you my servant in your new, I am sure, totally unforeseen role of not so long ago. Oh our most humble servant, please dress us in our finest clothing; serve us our finest banquet on the golden platter offered by Jesus. I write now only because I think He has perhaps chosen especially well this time.

**** This footnote is, perhaps, an interesting side note, perhaps nice for a "sound bite." I have a computer database of my ancestors who I chased far and wide through fact, legend, and myth. By complete serendipity my database program calculates Adam and Eve as my 100th great grandparents, exactly. However, I note there are several other ancestral "paths" especially through the middle ages, so the number of generations to Adam and Eve varies, even for me and any other person in my database. In the same database, Jesus is my 48th cousin 31 times removed (I shuffled together Matthew's and Luke's genealogies) and Emperor Wu of China, my 64th great grandfather. We ARE all related. We ARE all family, as DNA is confirming so clearly. There is a fun, easy mathematical demonstration that makes this fact obvious as well. Plot estimates of world population (recommended logarithmic) from now back in time (linear); 7 billion (US style) now, 1 billion in 1700, 300 million in 1000, and forever less before. Now plot on the same graph the number of ancestors a person MUST have had over the same time span; 2 for each generation of say 30 years; so 2, 4, 8, 16, or 2n, where n = 28 or so is the recommended first point to plot. 1000 years is about 33 generations; 233 = 8.6 billion. So just 1000 years ago the number of our ancestors equaled today's world population and was 25 times the population of the time. Intermarriage is the only possible explanation. The number of our ancestors doubles each generation, so just one more, 34, 1030 years ago, our ancestors numbered 17 billion; 35, 1060 years ago, 35 billion; 36, 1090 years ago, 70 billion; etc. So what about 100 generations? 2100 is a very big number. However, the sound bite might be "100 Generations out of Eden - How are we, the human family, doing so far?"