“John Paul II’s legacy is more profound than mere Catholic conservatism ” this Pope did more than say he was sorry. He put in place new structures of belief and practice, affirming peace and advancing tolerance, changing the Roman Catholic Church forever.”
— James Carroll, in the April 11, 2005 Time Magazine Commemorative Issue for Pope John Paul II 1920-2005
This is a post you can think of as my author’s prerogative to simply write about something in answer to my own need to write it. It will probably not be my normal Talking Story post, I’m not sure. Feel free to pass it by.
Like many, I have gobbled up much that has been written about the late Pope John Paul II since his death. The optimist that I strive to always be, I read the coverage wanting to only read the good that is being shared in celebrating a noteworthy and meaningful life. I read wanting to believe that we can have faith in our chosen leaders, wanting to know that those called to leadership will step into the shoes of humility to lead with vision, integrity, honor, truthfulness, and compassion.
When I read this article written by James Carroll for Time Magazine I felt I could stop reading; that I knew all I needed to know and wanted to know. I wish I had the tools needed to reprint for you here the picture that accompanies the article, for there is something about that picture of Pope John Paul II with his head bowed in prayer that reaches into my very core, leaving me with just one, clear, and strong thought: To those who are chosen to lead, much is required. Must such self-sacrifice be made?
I cannot begin to fathom the depth of responsibility it now means to be Pope Benedict XVI.
However I can take hold of my own Kuleana (responsibility).
How much do we who follow these leaders participate? What is required of those who choose to follow? What will be our own individual legacy of good? Why must a leader die for the profound truth of his vision to be talked about and celebrated? Why do I feel so alarmed and helpless knowing that all this talk will not last long enough to stir us all to create greater good for ourselves?
I remember feeling this way when Mother Teresa died. Yet what have I done since then? Why did I also start to forget even though the feelings were so strong? Events like this have a way of making me feel naked and wholly inadequate, but my inaction, and any hesitancy or reticence cowering in that nakedness and inadequacy is inexcusable. To not have one’s ho‘ohana mean that only good will flow from it, is unthinkable. We are meant to be better than that.
Life is such an incredible gift. How can we possibly treat it otherwise?
Kalā hiki ola. With each sunrise the dawning of a new day gives us a fresh new opportunity to take hold of our Kuleana, our own responsibility for self-leadership. To what good cause will our actions today be devoted to? What will be the difference we make?
I’ll start with me.