In the final days of each year, I hope for time to reflect and contemplate events which have brought about change. Not the kind of fake PR “news” like which teenage pop star has the most boorish behavior, but those things which have brought about lasting real change that will affect our futures. Two events really resonate with me:

The revelations of Edward Snowden and the voice of the new Pope, Francis I.

Der Speigel has yet another bombshell announcement today:  The NSA physically reroutes online-ordered computers to install spyware before sending on to the recipients. CIA and FBI jets ferry spy-nerds to infiltrate cables, routers, servers and systems. The global and domestic reach of the surveillance state is unprecedented. The old grade school rubric of “This will go on your permanent record,” is becoming reality, not just for criminals and so-called terrorists, but for everyone.

A soft-spoken, bespectacled, intelligent and idealistic young man exposed the workings of this vast machine and the 500,000 employees involved in it. His disclosures showed that both Clapper and Alexander lied, perjured themselves, before Congress. Yet, perhaps not surprisingly, they retain their jobs today. Their boss approves of their lies.

Against this dark backdrop comes a voice of refreshing kindness and hope. Not the (obvious today) false political promise of “Hope and Change” which fooled me and turned out to be one of the slickest marketing campaigns ever from a stealth Wall Street candidate, but real hope, faith, love and charity for all of humanity including, and especially, the meekest.

As Thomas Cahill (Heretics and Heroes, How the Irish Saved Civilization, and more) said on Bill Moyers this morning, there are two, and only two, competing forces in the world:  kindness and cruelty. How much and how long have we needed these words of kindness from global leaders? Pope Francis has been an enormous breath of fresh air.

Here, via repost and Moyers & Company, are a sampling of what gives me true hope for humanity in the coming year.

Papal Tweets of Note
(via Moyers & Company)
Last December, Pope Benedict XVI made history by becoming the first pope to tweet. After he stepped down earlier this year, the Vatican archived all of his tweets and a few weeks later Pope Francis took over the helm at the official pope handle, @Pontifex.

     Unlike Pope Benedict, whose tweets were more sporadic, Pope Francis quickly settled into a pattern; he tweets once a day without fail — and rests on Sundays. He tweets about the same topics he speaks about: the importance of caring for those less fortunate than ourselves and what it means to live charitably.