In his latest book, “Let Us Dream”, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, urges humankind to seize the moment – “to dream big, to rethink our priorities—what we value, what we want, what we seek—and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of. What I hear at this moment is similar to what Isaiah hears God saying through him: Come, let us talk this over. Let us dare to dream.”
Realizing the heavy toll inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic upon humanity, the Holy Father is exhorting everyone to fight this current crisis.
“Why Are You Afraid” Mk 4:40
Recalling that fateful night when Pope Francis delivered his “Urbi et Orbi” message in front of an empty St. Peter’s Square, I distinctly remember his invocation of the words of Christ – “Why are you afraid.?” We should not allow this crisis to defeat our spirits.
“The question is whether you’re going to come through this crisis and if so, how. The basic rule of a crisis is that you don’t come out of it the same. If you get through it, you come out better or worse, but never the same.”Pope Francis, “Let Us Dream”, December 2020
Given such a dilemma, we should seize the moment to dream big for a better tomorrow. We need to wake up from the lethargy and strive to think positively albeit in small portions day by day.
A Time of Reckoning
The Pope continues further with his words of encouragement: “I see this time as a reckoning. I think of what Jesus tells Peter in Luke 22:31, that the devil wants him to be sifted like wheat. To enter into crisis is to be sifted. Your categories and ways of thinking get shaken up; your priorities and lifestyles are challenged. You cross a threshold, either by your own choice or by necessity, because there are crises, like the one we’re going through, that you can’t avoid.”
Indeed, this pandemic has exposed a crisis in the world’s socio-economic order. Quite apart from the economic slow-down, we are witnessing disturbing trends in the rise in populist movements, hate crimes, xenophobic outcries, social media addictions, etc. Without a doubt, the time is now for everyone to reflect on the attitudes or mindsets that each one currently has. Given such, we should ask ourselves – “Will my current attitude help in fostering a better life in the new normal?”
Let Us Dream of a Better Tomorrow
In trying to heed the call of the Holy Father, one needs to figure out a battle plan. One method that I came across is WOOP, a science-based mental strategy developed by Gabriele Oettingen. . In essence, it entails a four-step process that aims to increase motivation for the betterment of oneself.
- WISH – envision your desired future. Whether it is an ambitious or rather simple target, think of a wish that carries two (2) characteristics: challenging and feasible. As an example, recently the world -renowned boxing champion, Manny Paquiao, openly declared his desire to fight corruption in government. Or, it could be something more mundane as targeting a weight loss of 10 pounds. It all depends on your priorities in the next 30, 60, or 360 days. This should fill you with the enthusiasm and motivation to wake up each morning to pursue your dream. In short, dreams could certainly help provide the direction to one’s future, thereby preventing the risk of falling into the trap of whimsicality.
- OUTCOME – imagine the outcome i.e. the positive benefits that you may derive from the attainment of your wish. Obviously, the very act of mentally envisioning the outcome of attaining dreams in the concrete further bolsters one’s conviction in the pursuit of such a dream. Without it, however, one would mindlessly go through life being tossed about by current waves of ideologies, social values, and worldly vices., there is no room for wishful thinking.
- OBSTACLES – imagine the obstacles inside of you that might prevent you from achieving the dream. Obviously, this requires an in-depth examination of one’s strengths and weaknesses in character. Easier said than done, this self-knowledge can only be acquired by dint of daily review of one’s thoughts and deeds done during the day. Only then, can you, in fact, clearly identify the obstacles that might prevent the attainment of the goal.
- PLAN – create an implementation plan that would address an “If x scenario happens, then I will adopt xx plan of action.” Simply put, this entails envisaging various scenarios that might block or disrupt the achievement of the goal and carefully studying possible remedial measures necessary to thwart such events.
The Way Forward
As may be gleaned from the preceding section, the key to achieving your dream hinges on the elements of (a) having a strong conviction to attain the goal and (b) preparing a battle plan that focuses on eliminating the internal obstacles that might prevent the achievement of the goal. This brings me to one of St. Josemaria’s points in the classic book, The Way, wherein he remarks:
“Yes, that abuse can be eradicated. It’s a lack of character to let it continue as something hopeless – without any possible remedy.
Don’t evade your duty. Do it in a forthright way, even though others may not.”St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 36
With those words of advice, the modern-day saint exhorts the readers to take on their responsibility in civic life: professional, social and political. This involves being bold enough to denounce abuses, and the capacity, when necessary, to swim against the current. It should be noted, however, that the way to stand up against the abuses is not by openly criticizing others but rather by improving oneself through the acquisition of virtue. Eventually, by way of a good example, one would be in a position to influence others positively.
Seize the Moment – to Dream Big
In closing, whilst the road ahead remains hazy, the way forward nonetheless compels each one of us to envision a better life in the new normal. For this to happen, one cannot simply shrug one’s shoulders in total indifference, callously unmindful of the needs of those who have been left behind during this pandemic crisis. On the contrary, one should, in fact, seize the moment to dream big – to make this world a better place for all. But this will only happen on the day one decides to fight one’s inner demons day by day, one step at a time. After all, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. And it starts with you.