Many young people suffer from unemployment, uncertainty, and doubt. They are powerless. We saw this recently in Greta Thunberg’s short address to the United Nations. The leaders worry about money and figures but do not really wish to change things. The preference in favour of youth means not that we have to become paternalistic patrons of the youth, but rather that they become our inspiration. In front of the Child Jesus and his parents, “I will make myself a poor, little unworthy slave… and serve them in their needs with all possible homage and reverence” (SpEx 114).
A globalised society and media could lead to more coverage of the whole world. In fact, what often happens is the opposite. English-language media dominate. Every tweet and sneeze of President Donald Trump hits the headlines in Delhi and Tokyo. We are called to swim against the tide, to seek to go to places that are shadowy and forgotten, to the margins of the Amazonian rainforest and the slums of our cities. We must “be content with the same food, drink, clothing, etc.” as the poor have (SpEx 93).
Most people today live in cities created as 24-hour, non-stop, climate-free environments where the rhythm of the rising and setting of the sun, the shifts in the seasons from winter’s cold to summer’s heat, are only minor peculiarities to be ironed out by human ingenuity. We make a cocoon for ourselves such that we no longer feel the wind or smell the flowers, “nor can foot feel, being shod” (G.M. Hopkins: “God’s Grandeur”). Pope Francis has called us back to creation, to live a life in joy, in which we are commissioned to sing the praise of the Creator.
The UAPs point to areas in life where we can find poverty, insults, and humility. They lead us to the cross, to see “how much God our Lord has done for us” (SpEx 234). The collaboration they call for is firstly with God, and then with others, where it is God and the others who are in charge.