Communicating hope and trust in our time
‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west’ (Is 43:5)
Today, Sunday, May 28, 2017 is World Communications Day. It is a unique day yearly set aside by the Holy See to appreciate the importance of Communications to the growth of the Church and the promotion of peace and justice across the world. It is also a day in which the Church appreciates Media Practitioners for the gallant role they play in helping to bring about cohesion in our troubled world.
The theme for this year’s edition is drawn from Isaiah 43 verse 5 in which God assures us of His presence in our lives at all times, promising to unite us from all corners of the world. Like in every past messages of the Hoy Father, the fulcrum is the need for the whole of humanity to be united in love, tolerance and to always strive to live in peace and harmony. This year, however, the Pope is quick to remind media practitioners and indeed the whole of humanity not to allow negativity to becloud their minds with fear.
Said he, “I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits.
Taking a critical appraisal of the communications industry, which believes that only bad news sells, Pope Francis warns us not be unmindful of a situation whereby the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment.
‘I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart “good news.”
Pope Francis noted that ‘Life is not simply a bare succession of events, but a history, a story waiting to be told through the choice of an interpretative lens that can select and gather the most relevant data.’ Jesus, he said, is the purveyor of goodness through whom God has shown his solidarity with every human situation.
He has told us that we are not alone, for we have a Father who is constantly mindful of his children. “Fear not, for I am with you” (Is 43:5): these are the comforting words of a God Who is immersed in the history of His people. In His beloved Son, this divine promise – “I am with you” – embraces all our weakness, even to dying our death. In Christ, even darkness and death become a point of encounter with Light and Life.
There is hope for humanity despite the tragedies that abound. That hope can be found in a God that promotes love. Seen in this light, every new tragedy that occurs in the world’s history can also become a setting for good news, inasmuch as love can find a way to draw near and to raise up sympathetic hearts, resolute faces and hands ready to build anew.
While assuring us of lasting hope in Christ, the Pope points humanity to the Holy Spirit that continues to sow in each of us the desire for the kingdom of God, assuring us that amid the dramatic events of our time, we can still shine like beacons in the darkness of this world, shedding light along the way and opening ever new paths of confidence and hope.
• Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.