“Fratelli tutti”: long summary of Pope Francis’s Social Encyclical

Fraternity and social friendship are the ways the Pontiff indicates to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with the contribution of all: people and institutions. With an emphatic confirmation of a ‘no’ to war and to globalized indifference.

What are the great ideals but also the tangible ways to advance for those who wish to build a more just and fraternal world in their ordinary relationships, in social life, politics and institutions? This is mainly the question that Fratelli Tutti is intended to answer: the Pope describes it as a “Social Encyclical” (6) which borrows the title of the “Admonitions” of Saint Francis of Assisi, who used these words to “address his brothers and sisters and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospel” (1). The Poverello “did not wage a war of words aimed at imposing doctrines; he simply spread the love of God”, the Pope writes, and “he became a father to all and inspired the vision of a fraternal society” (2-4). The Encyclical aims to promote a universal aspiration toward fraternity and social friendship. Beginning with our common membership in the human family, from the acknowledgement that we are brothers and sisters because we are the children of one Creator, all in the same boat, and hence we need to be aware that in a globalized and interconnected world, only together can we be saved. The Document on Human Fraternitysigned by Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in February 2019 is an inspirational influence cited many times.

Fraternity is to be encouraged not only in words, but in deeds. Deeds made tangible in a “better kind of politics”, which is not subordinated to financial interests, but to serving the common good, able to place the dignity of every human being at the centre and assure work to everyone, so that each one can develop his or her own abilities. A politics which, removed from populism, is able to find solutions to what attacks fundamental human rights and which aims to definitively eliminate hunger and trafficking. At the same time, Pope Francis underscores that a more just world is achieved by promoting peace, which is not merely the absence of war; it demands “craftsmanship”, a job that involves everyone. Linked to truth, peace and reconciliation must be “proactive”; they must work toward justice through dialogue, in the name of mutual development. This begets the Pontiff’s condemnation of war, the “negation of all rights” and is no longer conceivable even in a hypothetically “justified” form, because nuclear, chemical and biological weapons already have enormous repercussions on innocent civilians. There is also a strong rejection of the death penalty, defined as “inadmissible”, and a central reflection on forgiveness, connected to the concepts of remembrance and justice: to forgive does not mean to forget, the Pontiff writes, nor to give up defending one’s rights to safeguard one’s dignity, which is a gift from God. In the background of the Encyclical is the Covid-19 pandemic which, Francis reveals, “unexpectedly erupted” as he “was writing this letter”. But the global health emergency has helped demonstrate that “no one can face life in isolation” and that the time has truly come to “dream, then, as a single human family” in which we are “brothers and sisters all” (7-8).

Global problems, global actions

Opened by a brief introduction and divided into eight chapters, the Encyclical gathers – as the Pope himself explains – many of his statements on fraternity and social friendship, arranged, however, “in a broader context of reflection” and complemented by “a number of letters, documents” sent to Francis by “many individuals and groups throughout the world” (5). In the first chapter, “Dark clouds over a closed world”, the document reflects on the many distortions of the contemporary era: the manipulation and deformation of concepts such as democracy, freedom, justice; the loss of the meaning of the social community and history; selfishness and indifference toward the common good; the prevalence of a market logic based on profit and the culture of waste; unemployment, racism, poverty; the disparity of rights and its aberrations such as slavery, trafficking, women subjugated and then forced to abort, organ trafficking (10-24). It deals with global problems that call for global actions, emphasizes the Pope, also sounding the alarm against a “culture of walls” that favours the proliferation of organized crime, fuelled by fear and loneliness (27-28). Moreover, today we observe a deterioration of ethics (29), contributed to, in a certain way, by the mass media which shatter respect for others and eliminate all discretion, creating isolated and self-referential virtual circles, in which freedom is an illusion and dialogue is not constructive (42-50).

Love builds bridges: the Good Samaritan

To many shadows, however, the Encyclical responds with a luminous example, a herald of hope: the Good Samaritan. The second chapter, “A stranger on the road”, is dedicated to this figure. In it, the Pope emphasizes that, in an unhealthy society that turns its back on suffering and that is “illiterate” in caring for the frail and vulnerable (64-65), we are all called – just like the Good Samaritan – to become neighbours to others (81), overcoming prejudices, personal interests, historic and cultural barriers. We all, in fact, are co-responsible in creating a society that is able to include, integrate and lift up those who have fallen or are suffering (77). Love builds bridges and “we were made for love” (88), the Pope adds, particularly exhorting Christians to recognize Christ in the face of every excluded person (85). The principle of the capacity to love according to “a universal dimension” (83) is also resumed in the third chapter, “Envisaging and engendering an open world”. In this chapter Francis exhorts us to go “‘outside’ the self” in order to find “a fuller existence in another” (88), opening ourselves up to the other according to the dynamism of charity which makes us tend toward “universal fulfilment” (95). In the background – the Encyclical recalls – the spiritual stature of a person’s life is measured by love, which always “takes first place” and leads us to seek better for the life of the other, far from all selfishness (92-93).

Rights have no borders

A fraternal society, therefore, will be one that promotes educating in dialogue in order to defeat the “virus” of “radical individualism” (105) and to allow everyone to give the best of themselves. Beginning with protection of the family and respect for its “primary and vital mission of education” (114). There are two ‘tools’ in particular to achieve this type of society: benevolence, or truly wanting good for the other (112), and solidarity which cares for fragility and is expressed in service to people and not to ideologies, fighting against poverty and inequality (115). The right to live with dignity cannot be denied to anyone, the Pope again affirms, and since rights have no borders, no one can remain excluded, regardless of where they are born (121). In this perspective the Pontiff also calls us to consider “an ethics of international relations” (126), because every country also belongs to foreigners and the goods of the territory cannot be denied to those who are in need and come from another place. Thus, the natural right to private property will be secondary to the principal of the universal destination of created goods (120). The Encyclical also places specific emphasis on the issue of foreign debt: subject to the principal that it must be paid, it is hoped nonetheless that this does not compromise the growth and subsistence of the poorest countries (126).

Migrants: global governance for long-term planning

Meanwhile, part of the second and the entire fourth chapter are dedicated to the theme of migration, the latter, entitled “A heart open to the whole world”. With their lives “at stake” (37), fleeing from war, persecution, natural catastrophes, unscrupulous trafficking, ripped from their communities of origin, migrants are to be welcomed, protected, supported and integrated. Unnecessary migration needs to be avoided, the Pontiff affirms, by creating concrete opportunities to live with dignity in the countries of origin. But at the same time, we need to respect the right to seek a better life elsewhere. In receiving countries, the right balance will be between the protection of citizens’ rights and the guarantee of welcome and assistance for migrants (38-40). Specifically, the Pope points to several “indispensable steps, especially in response to those who are fleeing grave humanitarian crises”: to increase and simplify the granting of visas; to open humanitarian corridors; to assure lodging, security and essential services; to offer opportunities for employment and training; to favour family reunification; to protect minors; to guarantee religious freedom and promote social inclusion. The Pope also calls for establishing in society the concept of “full citizenship”, and to reject the discriminatory use of the term “minorities” (129-131). What is needed above all – the document reads – is global governance, an international collaboration for migration which implements long-term planning, going beyond single emergencies (132), on behalf of the supportive development of all peoples based on the principle of gratuitousness. In this way, countries will be able to think as “human family” (139-141). Others who are different from us are a gift and an enrichment for all, Francis writes, because differences represent an opportunity for growth (133-135). A healthy culture is a welcoming culture that is able to open up to others, without renouncing itself, offering them something authentic. As in a polyhedron – an image dear to the Pontiff – the whole is more than its single parts, but the value of each one of them is respected (145-146).

Politics: valuable form of charity

The theme of the fifth chapter is “A better kind of politics”, which represents one of the most valuable forms of charity because it is placed at the service of the common good (180) and recognizes the importance of people, understood as an open category, available for discussion and dialogue (160). In a certain sense, this is the populism indicated by Francis, which counters that “populism” which ignores the legitimacy of the notion of “people”, by attracting consensuses in order to exploit them for its own service and fomenting selfishness in order to increase its own popularity (159). But a better politics is also one that protects work, an “essential dimension of social life”, and seeks to ensure everyone the opportunity to develop their own abilities (162). The best help to a poor person, the Pontiff explains, is not just money, which is a provisional remedy, but rather allowing him or her to have a dignified life through work. The true anti-poverty strategy does not simply aim to contain or render indigents inoffensive, but to promote them in the perspective of solidarity and subsidiarity (187). The task of politics, moreover, is to find a solution to all that attacks fundamental human rights, such as social exclusion; the marketing of organs, tissues, weapons and drugs; sexual exploitation; slave labour; terrorism and organized crime. The Pope makes an emphatic appeal to definitively eliminate human trafficking, a “source of shame for humanity”, and hunger, which is “criminal” because food is “an inalienable right” (188-189).

The marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem. It requires a reform of the UN

The politics we need, Francis also underscores, is one that says ‘no’ to corruption, to inefficiency, to the malign use of power, to the lack of respect for laws (177). It is a politics centred on human dignity and not subjected to finance because “the marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem”: the “havoc” wreaked by financial speculation has demonstrated this (168). Hence, popular movements have taken on particular relevance: as true “social poets” with that “torrent of moral energy”, they must be engaged in social, political and economic participation, subject, however, to greater coordination. In this way – the Pope states – it will be possible to go beyond a Policy “with” and “of” the poor (169). Another hope present in the Encyclical regards the reform of the UN: in the face of the predominance of the economic dimension which nullifies the power of the individual state, in fact, the task of the United Nations will be to give substance to the concept of a “family of nations” working for the common good, the eradication of indigence and the protection of human rights. Tireless recourse “to negotiation, mediation and arbitration” – the Papal Document states – the UN must promote the force of law rather than the law of force, by favouring multilateral accords that better protect even the weakest states (173-175).

The miracle of kindness

From the sixth chapter, “Dialogue and friendship in society”, further emerges the concept of life as the “art of encounter” with everyone, even with the world’s peripheries and with original peoples, because “each of us can learn something from others. No one is useless and no one is expendable” (215). True dialogue, indeed, is what allows one to respect the point of view of others, their legitimate interests and, above all, the truth of human dignity. Relativism is not a solution – we read in the Encyclical – because without universal principals and moral norms that prohibit intrinsic evil, laws become merely arbitrary impositions (206). From this perspective, a particular role falls to the media which, without exploiting human weaknesses or drawing out the worst in us, must be directed toward generous encounter and to closeness with the least, promoting proximity and the sense of human family (205). Then, of particular note, is the Pope’s reference to the miracle of “kindness”, an attitude to be recovered because it is a star “shining in the midst of darkness” and “frees us from the cruelty … the anxiety … the frantic flurry of activity” that prevail in the contemporary era. A kind person, writes Francis, creates a healthy coexistence and opens paths in places where exasperation burns bridges (222-224).

The art of peace and the importance of forgiveness

The value and promotion of peace is reflected on in the seventh chapter, “Paths of renewed encounter”, in which the Pope underlines that peace is connected to truth, justice and mercy. Far from the desire for vengeance, it is “proactive” and aims at forming a society based on service to others and on the pursuit of reconciliation and mutual development (227-229). In a society, everyone must feel “at home”, the Pope writes. Thus, peace is an “art” that involves and regards everyone and in which each one must do his or her part. Peace-building is “an open-ended endeavour, a never-ending task”, the Pope continues, and thus it is important to place the human person, his or her dignity and the common good at the centre of all activity (230-232). Forgiveness is linked to peace: we must love everyone, without exception – the Encyclical reads – but loving an oppressor means helping him to change and not allowing him to continue oppressing his neighbour. On the contrary: one who suffers an injustice must vigorously defend his rights in order to safeguard his dignity, a gift of God (241-242). Forgiveness does not mean impunity, but rather, justice and remembrance, because to forgive does not mean to forget, but to renounce the destructive power of evil and the desire for revenge. Never forget “horrors” like the Shoah, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, persecutions and ethnic massacres – exhorts the Pope. They must be remembered always, anew, so as not be become anaesthetized and to keep the flame of collective conscience alive. It is just as important to remember the good, and those who have chosen forgiveness and fraternity (246-252).

Never again war, a failure of humanity

Part of the seventh chapter, then, focuses on war: it is not “a ghost from the past” – Francis emphasizes – “but a constant threat”, and it represents “the negation of all rights”, “a failure of politics and of humanity”, and “a stinging defeat before the forces of evil” which lies in their “abyss”. Moreover, due to nuclear chemical and biological weapons that strike many innocent civilians, today we can no longer think, as in the past, of the possibility of a “just war”, but we must vehemently reaffirm: “Never again war!” And considering that we are experiencing a “world war fought piecemeal”, because all conflicts are interconnected, the total elimination of nuclear arms is “a moral and humanitarian imperative”. With the money invested in weapons, the Pope suggests instead the establishment of a global fund for the elimination of hunger (255-262).

The death penalty inadmissible, to be abolished

Francis expresses just as clear a position with regard to the death penalty: it is inadmissible and must be abolished worldwide, because “not even a murderer loses his personal dignity” – the Pope writes – “and God himself pledges to guarantee this”. From here, two exhortations: do not view punishment as vindictive, but rather as part of a process of healing and of social reintegration, and to improve prison conditions, with respect for the human dignity of the inmates, also considering that “a life sentence is a secret death penalty” (263-269). There is emphasis on the necessity to respect “the sacredness of life” (283) where today “some parts of our human family, it appears, can be readily sacrificed”, such as the unborn, the poor, the disabled and the elderly (18).

Guarantee religious freedom

In the eighth and final chapter, the Pontiff focuses on “Religions at the service of fraternity in our world” and again emphasizes that violence has no basis in religious convictions, but rather in their deformities. Thus, “deplorable” acts, such as acts of terrorism, are not due to religion but to erroneous interpretations of religious texts, as well as “policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression”. Terrorism must not be supported with either money or weapons, much less with media coverage, because it is an international crime against security and world peace, and as such must be condemned (282-283). At the same time the Pope underscores that a journey of peace among religions is possible and that it is therefore necessary to guarantee religious freedom, a fundamental human right for all believers (279). The Encyclical reflects, in particular, on the role of the Church: she does not “restrict her mission to the private sphere”, it states. She does not remain at the margins of society and, while not engaging in politics, however, she does not renounce the political dimension of life itself. Attention to the common good and concern for integral human development, in fact, concern humanity, and all that is human concerns the Church, according to evangelical principals (276-278). Lastly, reminding religious leaders of their role as “authentic mediators” who expend themselves in order to build peace, Francis quotes the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, which he signed on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, along with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyib: from that milestone of interreligious dialogue, the Pontiff returns to the appeal that, in the name of human fraternity, dialogue be adopted as the way, common cooperation as conduct, and mutual knowledge as method and standard (285).

Blessed Charles de Foucauld, “the universal brother”

The Encyclical concludes by remembering Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi and above all Blessed Charles de Foucauld, a model for everyone of what it means to identify with the least in order to become “the universal brother” (286-287). The last lines of the Document are given to two prayers: one “to the Creator” and the other an “Ecumenical Christian Prayer”, so that the heart of mankind may harbour “a spirit of fraternity”.

By Isabella Piro – Vatican City

Your Sparring Partner In An Ever-Changing World

The world changes continuously. And technology accelerates these developments even further. In nature, all organisms must be able to adapt their habitat to survive. Therefore, the surviving organism is the one that knows how to adapt itself to changes in the environment in which it finds itself. What is true in nature also largely applies to organizations. As of the industrial revolution, organizations mainly focus on increasing production, material wealth and realizing economic growth. Organizations have, thus, come to see themselves as detached from the natural environment in which they operate and have started to organize themselves in an unnatural way. Policy choices based on purely technical considerations have subsequently become the center of interest, while simultaneously it is also of great importance to make full use of the available knowledge and skills, and be part of society at large in a sustainable way.

Investment support for your future-proof strategy

That is why I am keen on helping businesses and institutions to work out in detail what their strategy entails. If the realization of that plan for the future requires debt and/or equity from capital providers, I would gladly offer my expertise in support of that process. If the selected strategy makes an acquisition of a business with attractive synergies or other investment service imperative, the entire process could be part of my services as well.

Albert A. van Daalen VDM, DDhc

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Bad things happen for the same reason anything happens.

“We could bear nearly any pain or disappointment if we thought there was a reason behind it, a purpose, to it.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

My wife Karin is a much more practically-minded, down-to-earth person than I am. So when she was diagnosed in 2005 in her late thirties with a very aggressive life threatening cancer, she never dwelled on questions like ‘Why did this happen?’ or ‘Why me?’ When people asked her if she struggled with such questions or if she felt a sense of cosmic injustice, her characteristically matter-of-fact reply was “Why not me?”

Karin and I had experienced adversity and big life challenges before, but nothing like this. Not that we were really surprised to be facing such a crisis: neither of us had illusions of immunity to the kinds of adversity we had all too often seen hit others. Like me, Karin worked in a helping profession, so we had both witnessed much tragedy in our work, as well as among friends and relatives. Severe adversity seemed almost overdue for us. It seemed obvious to us that there was no reason we should be exempt from misfortune and tragedy.

For several years following the diagnosis, we expected the worst and lived with tremendous uncertainty.

Thanks to a whole lot of dumb luck, and some remarkable medical breakthroughs, we made it through—though one is never really out of the woods with cancer, and we have had more scares in recent years.

In the initial phases of her illness and treatment, the time of greatest uncertainty and vulnerability, I found myself grasping for reassurance and desperately wanting to believe that everything was somehow cosmically ‘meant’ to turn out favorably. But my clinical work as a psychiatrist had honed an ever-present awareness of the power of denial and wishful thinking as defense mechanisms. I had seen how these get deployed by people facing serious threat and uncertainty—all the more so when those people’s fates are being arbitrarily determined by random and trivial factors that seem to mock the significance of their lives.

I realized that I was still trying to come to terms with the full extent to which randomness rules our lives.

I have since become very interested in how my patients grapple with the randomness of adversity and the lack of control over its outcome. I have frequently observed how people divert their precious time, energy and resources into measures that merely create the illusion of control, such as obsessive diets, ‘alternative’ therapies, and superstitious rituals.

Searching for reasons

As a meaning-seeking species, we tend to process events in terms of what they mean to us: is it good or bad for us? And it is a human habit to infer deliberate intention to events in self-referential ways.

We are also a story-telling species. Our brains have a natural proclivity for coherent stories—grand narratives with an overarching point and a satisfying end: things must happen for specific reasons, they must have a point. Our brains are not satisfied with randomness.

“Why did this happen?” and “Why me?” are therefore natural and common questions asked by many people when faced with a sudden adverse event, such as a diagnosis of cancer. “What did I do to deserve this? Did I do something to cause it?” Many people are inclined to wonder if they are being punished by God for some past transgressions, or to ponder if there is some intended mysterious plan or higher reason for their misfortune, perhaps some intended lesson in their suffering.

In my psychiatric practice, I have observed that the belief that life events are somehow intended can have powerful effects on motivation, both positive and negative. This belief is a double-edged sword: it can be reassuring and comforting but can also lead to disillusionment, anguish, and feelings of abandonment by God, under conditions of cruel adversity.

Theodicy

The theological problem of trying to explain why evil and suffering exist in the world is referred to as theodicy. The central quandary is this: “Why do terrible things happen in a world governed by an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God?” How can God simultaneously possess all three of these qualities and yet allow bad things to happen to good people, and with such frequency and such savage intensity? As the Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg commented, “If there is a God that has special plans for humans, then He has taken very great pains to hide His concern for us.”

Rabbi Kushner’s proposed solution, in his now-famous book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, was to drop the belief in God’s omnipotence: “I believe in God. But I do not believe the same things about Him that I did years ago, when I was growing up or when I was a theological student. I recognize His limitations. He is limited in what He can do by laws of nature and by the evolution of human nature and human moral freedom.” Kushner went on to propose: “Let me suggest that the bad things that happen to us in our lives do not have a meaning when they happen to us. . . . But we can redeem these tragedies from senselessness by imposing meaning on them. . . . A better question would be “Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?”

The scientific or non-theistic perspective: there is no cosmic purpose or design

From a scientist’s point of view, Kushner’s God (or any version of God, actually) is superfluous, an unnecessary addition to the scientific explanation for the existence of the universe and everything in it. The single most fundamental conclusion of modern science is this: The universe has no inherent purpose or design.

Yes, as counterintuitive as it is, it is indeed fully plausible that the universe and all the complexity and life and consciousness contained within it could in fact have emerged and evolved entirely spontaneously and unguided. How precisely this could happen—how such astonishing and ‘clever’ complexity could have arisen and developed out of fundamental randomness and simplicity (and perhaps ultimately out of nothingness!), is what science is actually all about.

It’s not personal

Once that unambiguous conclusion from science is fully grasped, then the mystery of why bad things happen to good people simply evaporates. It becomes obvious that bad things happen for the same reason anything happens: the same laws of nature that underlie all causes and effects. There is nothing special about the causation of things that we humans judge as “bad.” The question of why bad things happen to good people can be reframed (as Karin’s response to the question posed to her implied): Why would bad things not happen to good people? Or, more simply and crudely put, “Sh*t happens.”

Adopting a secular worldview entails recognizing that meaning and purpose are human attributions and that events do not have inherent purpose—unless of course the event is caused by intentional human action (or the purposeful behavior of some other animal).

The belief that life is random is unsettling, but it can be emotionally liberating. Accepting randomness frees people from excessive self-blame, and in so doing also empowers them.

The Universe Has No Purpose, but We Do

Once we come to terms with the universe’s indifference, we realize more acutely that we have only each other to rely on. There is much we can do to alleviate each other’s suffering when adversity strikes. Our support and empathy toward our fellow human beings in their time of need helps them not only materially but demonstrates to them that they matter and that what happens to them has an emotional impact on us. When we act kindly, it also gives meaning to our own life, as we see that we matter to others.

As a therapist, I often emphasize the personal impact that a suffering patient is having on me in the therapeutic relationship that we form. Some of my cancer patients are facing less lucky outcomes than Karin, and the psychotherapeutic work turns from reassurance or tolerating uncertainty to defining their legacy—how their life has mattered to all the other lives they have touched. I try to express gratitude to them for sharing their life experience with me and for teaching me profound lessons about the human condition. I also assure them that I will pass on the lessons I am learning from them to other patients as well as to my students.

In the ordeal of Karin’s cancer, we were the grateful beneficiaries of very much kindness and caring. This experience confirmed our faith in people.

We all know that there are unfortunately also many uncaring, selfish people. And more disturbingly, there are too many callously brutal people in the world for anyone’s comfort. But fortunately, most people are caring, and the overwhelming majority are capable of caring when they can be taught to relate to other people’s predicament and perspective.

The universe has no purpose, but we do. We give value and meaning to life. People can and do care, even it the universe doesn’t.

By Ralph Lewis MD in Psychology Today

Denzel Washington: Put God First Speech

Denzel Washington is an American actor, director, and producer. He has received three Golden Globe awards, one Tony Award, and two Academy Awards.

“Put God first in everything you do. Everything that you think you see in me. Everything that I’ve accomplished, everything that you think I have – and I have a few things. Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It’s a gift.”

Below is the video and full text of Washington’s famous and inspiring speech titled “Put God First” delivered during a commencement address at Dillard University in 2015.

Click here to watch his speech on video

Let me take this moment to wholeheartedly congratulate each and every one of you, today. You graduated. You did it. You made it. Congratulation to you. And you did it all by yourself, nobody helped you.

No…that’s not – that’s what you know – that’s what I thought when I was young, I started to really make it as an actor. I came in, I talked to my mother, I said ‘Ma, did you think that this was going to happen, I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.’

And she said, ‘Boy, stop it right there. Stop it right there. Stop it right there’.

She said, “If you only knew, how many people they have been praying for you. How many prayer groups she put together, how many prayer clothes she gave me, how many times she splashed me with holy water to save my sorry behind,” as she said it.

She said, Oh, you did it all by yourself, I’ll tell you what you can do by yourself: You can go outside and get a mop and bucket and wash them windows – you can do that by yourself, superstar.

So, I’m saying that to say ‘I want to congratulate all the parents and friends and family and aunties and uncles and grandmother and grandfathers, and teachers and, friends and enemies — all the people that helped you to get where you are today, congratulations to you all.’

I’m going to tell about two to three stories. I’m going to keep it really short. I remember my graduation speaker, got up there and went on forever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So I’m going to keep it short.

NUMBER ONE: PUT GOD FIRST. 

Put God first in everything you do. Everything that you think you see in me. Everything that I’ve accomplished, everything that you think I have – and I have a few things. Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It’s a gift.

Forty years ago, March 27, 1975 – it was 40 years ago just this past March, I was flunking out of college. I had a 1.7 grade point average, I hope none of you can relate.

I had a 1.7 grade point average, I was sitting in my mother’s beauty shop. They still call the beauty shop now, what they call it? Yeah, and I was sitting in a beauty parlor. I was sitting in my mother’s beauty parlor.

And I’m looking in the mirror and I see behind me this woman under the dryer and every time she looked up –every time I looked up she was looking at me. She was looking me in the eye, I don’t know who she was and I said you know, she said somebody give me a pen, give me a pencil, I have a prophecy.

March 27, 1975, she said, “Boy, you are going to travel the world and speak to millions of people.”

Now mind you I flunked out of college. I’m thinking about joining the army. I didn’t know what I was going to go and she is telling me I’m going to travel the world and speak to millions of people.

Well I have traveled the world. And I have spoke to millions of people, but that’s not the most important thing – the success that I had. The most important thing is that what she taught me, and what she told me that day has stayed with me since.

I’ve been protected, I’ve been directed, I’ve been corrected. I’ve kept God in my life and it’s kept me humble. I didn’t always stick with Him but he always stuck with me.

So stick with Him, in everything you do, if you think you want to do, what you think I’ve done, then do what I’ve done. And stick with God.

NUMBER TWO: FAIL BIG.

That’s right. Fail big. Today is the beginning of the rest of your life and you can be just – it’s going to be very frightening. And it’s a new world out there, it’s a mean world out there. And you only live once, so do what you feel passionate about, passionate about.

Take chances professionally, don’t be afraid to fail, there is an old IQ test that was nine dots and you had to draw five lines with the pencil within these nine dots without lifting the pencil.

The only way to do it was to go outside the box. So don’t be afraid to go outside the box. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big. But remember, dreams without goals, are just dreams. And they ultimately fuel disappointment.

So have dreams, but have goals — life goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, daily goals. I try to give myself a goal every day, sometimes just to not curse somebody out. Simple goals but have goals.

And understand that to achieve these goals, you must apply discipline and consistency. In order to achieve your goals, you must apply discipline which you’ve already done, and consistency every day, not just one Tuesday and just a two days, you have to work at it.

Every day you have to plan, every day you heard the saying, we don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan. Hard work works. Working really hard is what successful people do. And in this text tweet, twerk world that you’ve grown up in, remember just because you’re doing a lot more doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot more done.

Remember that. Just because you’re doing a lot more, doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot more done. Don’t confuse movement with progress.

My mother told me, she said ‘Yeah, because you can run and play all the time and never get anywhere.’ So continue to strive, continue to have goals, continue to progress.

NUMBER THREE: YOU’LL NEVER SEE A U-HAUL BEHIND A HEARSE.

I’ll say it again, you’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. I don’t care how much money you make, you can’t take it with you. The Egyptians tried it, they got robbed. That’s all they got. You can’t take it with you, with you.

And it’s not how much you have – it’s what you do, with what you have. We all have different talents, some of you’ll be doctors, some lawyers, some scientists, some educators, some nurses, some teachers. Yeah, okay. Some preachers.

The most selfish thing you can do in this world is help someone else. Why is this selfish, because the gratification, the goodness that comes to you, the good feeling, the good feeling that I get from helping others, nothing’s better than that.

Well one of two things but, nothing’s better than that, not – not jewelry, not big house I have, not big cars, but it’s the joy; that’s where the joy is, in helping others. That’s where the success is in helping others.

Finally, I pray that you put your slippers way under the bed tonight, so that when you wake up in the morning, you have to get on your knees to reach them.

And while you’re down there, say thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents, thank you for love, thank you for kindness, thank you for humility, thank you for peace, thank you for prosperity.

Say ‘thank you’ in advance for what’s already yours.

So that’s how I live my life, that’s why – one of the reasons where I am today.

Say thank you in advance for what is already yours.

True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you sent beforehand to indicate that it’s yours already.

I’ll say it again.

True desire in the heart, that itch that you have, whatever it is you want to do, that thing that you want to do to help others and to grow and to make money, that desire, that itch, that’s God’s proof to you, sent beforehand, already to indicate that it’s yours.

And anything you want good you can have, so claim it, work hard to get it. When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up, each one, teach one.

Don’t just aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference.

Thank you.

Privacy Security

This is what it takes to be in the 1% of our world

Privacy and security are common terms used to refer to an ultra-high-net-worth individual (UHNWI). Privacy and security are related.

Privacy related to any rights people have to control their personal information and how it’s used. Security, on the other hand, refers to how their personal information is protected such as health records and all financial matters. Privacy protects a person from unnecessary interference. Sadly, most people today do not enjoy their privacy rights.

Being an UHNWI comes with its disadvantages. UHNWIs attract so much attention from the public, and such interest compromises their privacy. Violation of privacy brings about anxieties and threats to a person’s security. For this reason, UHNWIs have gone to great lengths to ensure they protect their privacy.

Why very wealthy individuals (must) invest in privacy security

Most UHNWIs are known for saving their money in foreign accounts. A popular belief is that these rich people hide their wealth and avoid heavy taxes. However, law-abiding UHNWIs know that being wealthy attracts people who will do anything to exploit their resources. These UHNWIs, therefore, find it wise to store a significant portion of their wealth in a different country. Foreign accounts provide secrecy and confidentiality of the wealth of an UHNWI that protect him/her from greedy opportunists.

To maintain privacy security, most UHNWIs invest in more homes. Having various estates helps them live a private life as they can settle in whichever place they feel secure and undisturbed. When UHNWIs are very famous people, it’s easy to trace where they live. An UHNWI with one home will hardly enjoy the privacy of his/her home as they will always receive unnecessary visits and scrutiny from the media, the public, stalkers, and even criminals who see a soft target in the UHNWI. Relatives of UHNWIs are kidnapped very frequently, for example. This kind of attention, and sometimes also of threat, can be very uncomfortable and can cause stress.

The personal information of an UHNWI such as his/her health records can be used against him/her and is therefore sensitive. Rich people have many rivals, enemies or people after their money. These people will use whichever weakness the wealthy person has to their advantage. It is for this reason that UHNWIs pay a great fortune to private clinics for treatment and checkups. These medical institutions not only provide high-end medical care but maximum patient confidentiality as well.

Private islands are popular spots for UHNWIs on vacation. Such places guarantee privacy and protection as they are away from the curious eyes of the public. They travel in private planes and own vacation homes where they can enjoy their holidays in private. These homes, islands, and planes cost a fortune but are necessary for ensuring that they enjoy their lives without too much attention, disturbance or insecurity.

UHNWIs also invest in expensive private schools where their children can learn and interact with other wealthy and celebrity kids without feeling out of place. Such schools are very secure and uphold the confidentiality of their students. These kids easily fit into such schools as they are treated as normal students and not as children of an UHNWI.

Total protection package

In conclusion, privacy security is more of a luxury for UHNWIs than a right. If you are strive for wealth and fame, be prepared to pay for your privacy security. If you are an UHNWI or you will soon become a very wealthy individual, Albert A. van Daalen Services (Alvadas) can facilitate your privacy security. If required, we can facilitate a total protection package (risk analysis, security systems, asset protection, and proactive management of threats, for example).