Dreams, hope, and meeting. The Pope’s speech in front of the young Cubans from the Felix Center in Havana was built around three concepts. “A Latin American writer – began the Pontiff – used to say that we had two eyes, one made of flesh and another made of glass. With the one in flesh we see what we look at, with the other one we dream. A young man unable to dream is cloistered in himself, is a prisoner. Dream, desire, open yourself to great things. We, Argentineans, say do not fold up, open and dream about a world, that can be different with you, dream because if you pull out your best qualities, you will change the world. Do not forget, dream – perhaps too much -, but dream and tell about your dreams to the others. Talk about great things you desire. The larger is the scale on which you dream, the further you will go”.
“We – he continued – are often closed. When a religion becomes an abbey, it loses its reality to worship and believe in God. There are small groups of word and prayer: when I have my way of thinking, I close myself in an ideological group. We need open hearts and minds. Let us not throw stones at each other because of what separates us, let us rather hold hands: the world needs the courage to speak about what we have in common. Then we can also talk about our differences: talk, not argue, not to close ourselves in small groups. We need to work together”.
To strengthen this concept, the Holy Father told a story. “In Buenos Aires – he said – there was a new parish in a poor area, the pastor asked me to meet the young people who were building the rooms of the parish. I went there and met them. There were a Jewish architect, a communist, a Catholic… they were all different, but worked together for the common good: this is social friendship, seeking for the common good. Whereas Social enmity destroys. The world is being destroyed by enmity, the largest of which is war. Today the world is being destroyed by war because we are unable to speak. Let us negotiate and see on what we can agree. When there is division, there is death. I ask you: be able to create social friendship”.
Then, Francis pointed out that “young people are the hope of a nation”. But what is hope? – he asked himself -. “It is being optimistic? Is hope a state of mind? It is something more: it is painful, it knows the sufferance of carrying on a project, it knows self-sacrifice. It is fecund, it gives life. Are you able to give life or will you be spiritually barren? Hope is generated in work, there is a very serious problem in Europe: unemployment among young people”. There are countries in Europe, he explained, “where all the under 25 live unemployed up to 40, 47, and 50%: a society that does not give work to youth, has no future; they enter the discard culture, and in this empire of the money-god are discarded things and people: children because we do not want them anymore or because they are killed before even being born, and the elderly are discarded because they are no longer productive”. In some countries, he continued, “there is euthanasia, but there is also a veiled euthanasia: young people without jobs are discarded, and to them remains suicide, to go around and create armies of destruction. The discard culture removes hope. You asked a painful and hardworking hope, that saves us the discard culture. A hope that calls together, a people that builds social friendship has hope. A young man without hope, a young ‘retired’, is a bearer of existential sadness, her/his life is built on a base of defeat, s/he complains and escapes from life: the path of hope is not easy, and you cannot walk it alone. If you want to go far, go together. I ask you, young people, to go together looking for hope, future and the nobility of the fatherland”.
Finally, Bergoglio reaffirmed the centrality of a meeting culture. Let us go on together, “accompanied: there is the sweet hope of the homeland we want to reach.” I wish you the best – the Pope concluded, adding jokingly – I will pray for you and please pray for me and if someone is not a believer, at least wish me good things”.