350,000. That’s how many people went to Beirut’s Watefront to attend the Pope’s Mass.
A few people is all it took for a wave of ridicule to start hitting them all. Some people were bothered by the Mass. And I don’t get why.
I didn’t go down to Beirut for the Mass although I would have liked to. And I can understand why someone wouldn’t want to. But why make fun of those who do?
Are they causing you any harm? No. Are they wrecking havoc to downtown Beirut? No. Are they giving a bad image of your country? No.
On the contrary, the Pope’s Mass in Beirut was broadcast for the entire world to see. And if there’s any decent image that we could have given the world, it’s this: 350,000 people, not all of whom are Christian, listening in to a message of hope.
You don’t like the Pope? Fine. You don’t think what he has to say is relevant? You have every right. But what you don’t have the right to do is make fun of those who like the Pope and who think what he has to say is relevant.
Religion may not mean anything to you but it means something to others. You find religions to be bringing societies backwards, others find in them a message of hope. And as it is your right to express your belief without expecting people to pummel you for it, the least you can do is extend that courtesy to those who don’t share your beliefs.
Personally, I felt proud as a Lebanese first and foremost and as a Christian second to see the crowds in Downtown Beirut chant and attend Mass. It made me feel hopeful, if only for a fleeting second, that somehow someday things might get better. I may be delusional, but that’s fine – at least for today.
The point is: the Pope’s visit means a lot to so many people. It may mean nothing to you but that doesn’t mean you can disparage the right of people to see hope in it or to attend Mass and feel delusional for one more day. It’s their life and if you believe they’re not reaching their “mental apogee” because of it, then it’s their loss not yours.