Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The apocryphal Fernando Pessoa and the imagined Pope Francis

I admire Pope Francis greatly, but the “Being Happy” passage attributed to him and going viral in the Philippines is not by him, but is the English translation of a Portuguese text entitled "Palco de vida" attributed to the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935). Interestingly however, his authorship of this work has also been questioned, and Portuguese scholars believe that the text took a life of its own, beginning with a few lines written by a Brazilian blogger named Nox (see this link for a discussion in January 2006 about the authorship of this text). Rui Araújo writes:

Apparently the phrases took own life and spread throughout Lusophone internet with variations in scoring and attribution of authorship. Then someone decided to take a poem (possibly Augusto Cury, author of Ten Laws to Be Happy), paste such a small piece at the end and distribute everything as if it were the work of Fernando Pessoa. It did not take long for my three phrases start popping the network attributed to Portuguese poet (after all, it is always nice quote a famous Portuguese writer who almost unknown Brazilian blogger).

Fast forward to September 2015, and the Facebook page of a Missionary Community of St Paul the Apostle and Mary, Mother of the Church, Catholic group in Kenya, shared the same passages, attributing to Pope Francis - in, as far as I've seen, the first time it's been ascribed to him. See this link for the original post.

This reminds me of the Pope Francis' supposed response to Duterte's "cursing" him. Though it was disclaimed to be "fake news" (see the original source here), the same fake news website noted:
It was made clear by the unknown source that the news regarding the reaction of the Pope to Duterte was all fictional. But that doesn't stop Filipinos from quoting the said website and spreading images of the Pope with the caption:
"I was amazed by the fact that a politician who is aiming at the highest position could be this honest. It was a first encounter for me to see a politician being honest about his concerns for his country other than kissing my hands for the sole purpose of getting the support of the majority of the Catholic population."
If we admire the Pope, let’s not put words in his mouth. And let us be vigilant in this world of social media when all you need is a face and a phrase to put words on people’s mouths.

Here are the original sources of the supposed "Being Happy" words of wisdom by Pope Francis (sourced from this link and checked against other sources):

PALCO DE VIDA (Attributed to early 20th century Fernando Pessoa but widely disputed by scholars)

“Você pode ter defeitos, viver ansioso e ficar irritado algumas vezes,
mas não se esqueça de que sua vida é a maior empresa do mundo. E você
pode evitar que ela vá à falência.

Há muitas pessoas que precisam, admiram e torcem por você. Gostaria
que você sempre se lembrasse de que ser feliz não é ter um céu sem
tempestade, caminhos sem acidentes, trabalhos sem fadigas,
relacionamentos sem desilusões.

Ser feliz é encontrar força no perdão, esperança nas batalhas,
segurança no palco do medo, amor nos desencontros.

Ser feliz não é apenas valorizar o sorriso, mas refletir sobre a
tristeza. Não é apenas comemorar o sucesso, mas aprender lições nos
fracassos. Não é apenas ter júbilo nos aplausos, mas encontrar alegria
no anonimato.

Ser feliz é reconhecer que vale a pena viver, apesar de todos os
desafios, incompreensões e períodos de crise.

Ser feliz é deixar de ser vítima dos problemas e se tornar um autor da
própria história. É atravessar desertos fora de si, mas ser capaz de
encontrar um oásis no recôndito da sua alma.

Ser feliz é não ter medo dos próprios sentimentos. É saber falar de si
mesmo. É ter coragem para ouvir um “não”. É ter segurança para receber
uma crítica, mesmo que injusta.

Ser feliz é deixar viver a criança livre, alegre e simples, que mora
dentro de cada um de nós. É ter maturidade para falar “eu errei”. É
ter ousadia para dizer “me perdoe”. É ter sensibilidade para expressar
“eu preciso de você”. É ter capacidade de dizer “eu te amo”. É ter
humildade da receptividade.

Desejo que a vida se torne um canteiro de oportunidades para você ser
feliz… E, quando você errar o caminho, recomece, pois assim você
descobrirá que ser feliz não é ter uma vida perfeita, mas usar as
lágrimas para irrigar a tolerância.

Usar as perdas para refinar a paciência.
Usar as falhas para lapidar o prazer.
Usar os obstáculos para abrir as janelas da inteligência.

Jamais desista de si mesmo.
Jamais desista das pessoas que você ama.
Jamais desista de ser feliz, pois a vida é um espetáculo imperdível,
ainda que se apresentem dezenas de fatores a demonstrarem o contrário.

Pedras no caminho? Guardo todas… Um dia vou construir um castelo.”


“You may have flaws, live anxious, and sometimes get angry, but never forget that your life is the biggest company in the world. And you can keep it from going bankrupt.
There are many people who need, admire and cheer for you.
I wish that you always remember that being happy is not having a sky without storms, paths without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.
Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in fear, love in disagreements.
Being happy is not only appreciating the smiles, but reflecting on the sadness.
It is not just celebrating the success, but also learning lessons in failures.
Not only having joy in applause, but finding joy in anonymity.
Being happy is recognizing that life is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and periods of crisis.
Being happy is no longer being a victim of the problems and becoming an author of history itself. It is crossing deserts outside of yourself, but being able to find an oasis in the secret of your soul.
It is thanking God every morning for the miracle of life.
Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings. It’s knowing how to talk to yourself.
It’s the courage to hear a “No” and be confident enough to receive criticism, although sometimes untrue.
Being happy is to let the child living within us to live free, happy and simple.
It is having the needed maturity to say “I was wrong”.
It is having the essential courage to say “forgive me”.
It is having the indispensable sensibility to say “I need you”.
It is being able to say “I love you”.
It is having the humility of receptivity.
I want life to be a hotbed of opportunities and that you be happy. And when you go astray, start again. This way, you will find that being happy is not having a perfect life, but using tears to irrigate tolerance. Using losses to refine patience.
Using failures to reach prayer.
Using obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.
Never give up hope.
Never give up the people you love.
Never give up on being happy, because life is a no-miss obstacle, even if it gives you dozens of reasons to demonstrate the contrary.

Stones on the way? I keep them all … One day I’ll build a castle!”

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