Pope Francis has 10.6 million twitter followers, and is the leader of a global religion that counts more than 1.2 billion people among its adherents.
Speaking via a recording at the TED International conference in Vancouver last night, the pope's talk was the culmination of an extraordinary effort to get him to speak (including a year of asking). If you measure a TED talk by impact, the fact that his 18 minutes on the virtual stage are trending all over the world right now has to count for something.
Here are 5 key things to take away from the pope's surprise talk.
1. Humble beginnings
Early in the speech, the pope talked about reaching out to "those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts," and to other people we might describe as marginalized in modern society.
Besides religious convictions, the pope gave an insight into why he is drawn to them. It's that he marvels at the fact that he isn't among them.
"I often find myself wondering: 'Why them and not me?' he said. "I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today's 'discarded' people. And that's why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: 'Why them and not me?'"
2. No man or woman is an island.
Next, the pope goes into what he identified as his first takeaway--and it's a point that has been made by countless psychological studies, as well--namely, that people need each other.
"First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent "I," separated from the other," Pope Francis said.
If that sounds like a familiar point, it's the exact conclusion of the 75-year Harvard Grant Study, which found that the number-one thing people need in order to be fulfilled and happy is to develop relationships with other people.
"Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component. Even science - and you know it better than I do - points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else," the pope said.
3. Use technology and science to bring people closer together.
Perhaps it's simply a function of the era, but the pope is sometimes described as a techno-savvy pontiff. (Noted: last year he had a surprise audience with the leaders of Apple and Google.)
In his TED talk, Pope Francis embraced technological and scientific progress--but encouraged inventors and researchers to focus on making technology serve the idea of connection among people.
"How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion," he said, adding. "How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries.
4. A "revolution of tenderness"--and care for power.
Next, the pope called for a revolution. That's an overused and sometimes alarming word, but Pope Francis repeated it several times. Specifically, he called for a "revolution of tenderness."
What is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.
Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don't, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: "Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach."
5. Big powers and little people.
Finally, the pope talked about the connection between the big governments, companies, and organizations of the world, with individual people who make big and small choices every day.
"The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility," he said. "But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a 'you' and themselves as part of an 'us.' We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us."