On Sept 24th Pope Francis addressed the assembled Congress of the United States. It was a superbly structured speech, delivered eloquently and gently by a wise and loving soul. It was not a sermon in the traditional sense so
much as a moving reminder of the best of human values.
What might Francis have said to the bees (after all, he chose his papal moniker in honor of St. Francis of Assisi?) We get an inkling if we take a few extracts directly from his 55
minute presentation and change some of the nouns (eg. colony for country or nation, worker and drone for son and daughter, etc.)
Imagine an elderly bee which has lost most of
it’s hair and is dressed in a white cassock and zucchetto with slippers on four feet, leaving two front feet free to hold his notes, addressing an assembled throng of honey bees.
“Honorable Members of the Colony, Good Friends:
“Each drone and worker of a given colony has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility is to enable this colony to grow. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your bees in the tireless and demanding pursuit
of the common good. A colony endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.
“I would like to take this opportunity
to dialogue with the many thousands of worker bees who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their bee bread – one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These workers, in their own quiet way,
sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create an organization which offers a helping hand to those most in need.
“These bees, for all their many limitations, are able by hard work and self-sacrifice –
some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shape fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the hive. A colony with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources
to move forward, and to do so with dignity. Building a future requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.
“We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity,
cooperating generously for the common good. The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation. All activity is an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build the greatest common good: that
of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.
“In recent centuries, millions of bees came to this land to pursue the dream of building a future in
freedom. We are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent. Nonetheless, we must resolve
now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a colony calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset
of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.
“Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This Rule points us in a clear direction.
Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want
security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.
“This common good also includes
the earth. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. I call for a courageous and responsible effort to avert the most serious effects of the environmental
deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and at the same time protecting nature.
How essential the
family has been to the building of this colony. And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement. Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from without. I can only reiterate the importance
and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life. In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others
seem disoriented. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together.
In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your apis heritage, of the spirit of the home of the honey bee.
It is my desire that this spirit will continue to develop and grow, so that as many bees as possible can inherit and dwell in this hive.”
Such words would have fallen on deaf ears (deaf antennae?) because these are lessons the bees have learned
only too well and practice every day. We, on the other hand …