I came across this TED talk last week while listening to TED RADIO HOUR (my particular podcast of choice) and in the time since I have told EVERYONE ABOUT IT. Seriously. Everyone. It is about wolves and Yellowstone National Park and it takes a turn I did not see coming. I think everyone should watch it--not for my benefit, but for theirs.
It's about hope. It's about how small changes can have MASSIVE effects. Which means, all is not lost. Which means good things are possible. Which means kind words of encouragement, or paying for your neighbor's coffee, or just taking the time to smile at a stranger can add up to something really remarkable.
I have watched this year--in many different circumstances--as really not-good-things have snowballed. I have been floored by the extent to which one person's fear can catch and spread. But then I spent ten days in Park City where I saw that the opposite is also true--everyone smiles and chats and waves hello and hell, if culture isn't contagious.
Pope Francis visited this last week. And as Timothy Egan wrote in his New York Times article, "For a moment, a morning, a day and maybe more, a broken political system felt the soft diplomatic breeze of the Francis Effect." I love that image. Of a soft breeze. Of a man revolutionizing one of the oldest institutions in the world by returning to the oldest values in the world--love, and kindness, and charity. Interesting how those things have nothing to do with fear or deceit or who can bang about the room in the most bull-like fashion. Small changes can have massive effects. Wolves can change the very foundation of the land. And one man can change the foundation of the church. And there is reason to hope.