Let’s start with the obvious: of course Pope Francis is the first pope to give a TED talk, the speeches about technology, innovation, and the future that began in Silicon Valley before sweeping across the internet and world.
This modern pope, who is 80, has 10 million Twitter followers and 4 million Instagram followers, and has been using technology to speak directly with the world's youth and tech-savvy since the beginning of his papacy in 2013. And his messages of peace, generosity, inclusiveness, and forgiveness have resonated far beyond his religious followers.
So when audience members at the annual TED Conference in Vancouver saw the pontiff’s face appear on the screen in a surprise pre-recorded TED talk this week, they were, perhaps, ready to hear the Pope’s take on how to build a future that focuses not just on products or technology, but on humanity.
“How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us,” he said.
Here are the top five takeaways from Pope Francis’s speech, important messages that go beyond religion and faith.
The Pope Could Have Been a Refugee Once, Too
“I could very well have ended up among today’s ‘discarded’ people. And that’s why I always ask myself deep in my heart: ‘Why them and not me?’” said Francis, whose family immigrated from Italy to Argentina.
The Pope has has urged Western countries to accept more refugees and do more to deal with the refugee crisis unfolding in so many parts of the world, including Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and parts of Africa.
The Pope Compared Power to Booze
“Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach,” the Pope said during his talk. “You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t your power with humility and tenderness.”
Power was a major theme of his message to viewers, including political and economic power. The “more powerful you are...the more responsible you are to act humbly,” Francis said of those who strive to gain power in the world, including in politics and business.
"Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don't, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other,” he said.
The Pope Says We’ve Got to Work Together Better
When we get too absorbed in technology or products, we risk losing sight of one another, the Pope said, when in fact the whole point of life is interacting with and getting to know our fellow humans. If we do that, we can bring about a more hopeful future, he said.
"Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others," Francis said. "Life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions," he said.
"A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another 'you,' and another 'you,' and it turns into an 'us.' And so, does hope begin when we have an 'us?' No. Hope began with one 'you.' When there is an 'us,' there begins a revolution,” he said.
The Pope Wants Us to Just Try and Be More Tender, Including to the Earth
"Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future," Francis said. "To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted Earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need."
And though it may seem easy, he said, tenderness isn’t for the weak; it takes strength to be tender toward our fellow humans and our planet — a quality we must strive to achieve.