The Way I See It: The Way I Hope To See It in 2014

Categories:      Opinion
Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 at 9:15 PM

Someone recently posed a question to me: If I had the opportunity to have dinner with any five people – living or deceased – who would they be?

I’ve been posed this question in the past, and immediately, a handful of historical notables – Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, even Hitler (nobody said you had to like the person) – came to mind. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those I wanted to spend time with say ten years ago, are not the same people I want to spend time with today. At this point in my life, I have begun to realize that I no longer desire to spend time with people just because of what they are – president or evil Nazi ruler – and rather, because of who they are – kind and generous and so on.

Throughout the course of 2013, my column touched upon several notables that at first glance I’m sure many would jump at the opportunity to have dinner with if for no other reason than sheer curiosity of their very being.

There was the illustrious Edward Snowden, who’s still out there making headlines [he reportedly told Brazil recently he'd help probe NSA spying if he was granted asylum there], Suessian Sen. Ted Cruz and his fiffer-feffer-fef filibuster fiasco, and our President and Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama and his, well, not-so-smooth rollout of Obamacare.

Our own Gov. Tom Corbett was mentioned several times throughout the year on the issues of liquor privatization (still hasn’t happened), sequestration, and his quest for what seems to be the highly unattainable second term. Jimmy Hoffa also made my radar when, for the third time in the last decade, FBI agents came up literally empty handed in the search for his remains, all the while utilizing federal dollars for his search; and there was Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 50th anniversary of his iconic “I have a dream” speech – highlighting the movement (or stagnancy) of our political system today.

But as I looked back at last year’s columns and topics – whether you, Reader readers, loved, hated, agreed, or disagreed with them – there’s truly one person in all 25 columns that I can honestly say, would make my personal cut: Jorge Mario Bergoglio, better known now as Pope Francis.

From his first moments as pontiff, he let it be known to the world, he was cut from different [papal] cloth. He chose the name Francis to honor St. Francis of Assisi's humble life and ministry to the poor. Since that moment he has been true to his name.

He lives simply – in a guesthouse rather than the palace, and he carries his own bags. He sneaks out at night in plainclothes to help the homeless. He has begun to set a new tone for Catholicism – although he hasn’t officially changed any doctrine. He’s directed bishops to shift their focus from issues such as abortion, contraception, and gay marriage to advocating for and helping the poor. He has been photographed washing the feet of prisoners, something Jesus (but no previous Pope) had done. He has been in his post in less than a year and yet he has inspired even some of the most disgruntled Christians and impassioned atheists I know.

We live in a culture that has largely accepted greed and bad behavior as the norm – as showcased through our love of reality TV (I’m looking at you Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo Child). We feast on the scandals du jour (and sadly often laugh at others’ misfortunes).

But these individuals clearly don’t challenge us to be our best selves, to show compassion to others. Pope Francis does. No matter your beliefs or creed, we can all see something inside of him that we wish we could be.

At least I know I do. He is simple and kind – possessing the innocence and tenderness of a child, alongside the knowledge and wisdom of someone who’s seen and experienced a lot. His low-key nature is unlike most in such a position of power. Through this, he is serving as an example of that which we should all be striving to achieve: just being innately good.

While in his brief time in the spotlight he has  already greatly affected the world, but I suspect that if the spotlight wasn’t on him, he’d still be doing the same things. Unlike most, the spotlight isn’t changing him; instead, it’s changing us; and that’s what matters. Hopefully, that will be something we all learn from in the coming year.

So, there is one of my five. I’d like to tell you the rest, but we’ll have to save that for another time.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and wonderful new year. I will see you all in 2014.

Love? Hate? Agree? Disagree? I want to hear from you. Email me at and follow me on Twitter @rStyn. 

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