What?! …The Pope doesn’t want to be the pope anymore? …Oscar Pistorious is in court, six months after the Olympics, charged with premeditated murder?
Both these news reports beggar belief.
Last weekend, if I had asked anyone if they thought the Pope was “in post” for life and if they thought Pistorious was a hero, it would be fair to say the results would have been a resounding “yes”. But this week, these two unrelated news stories have changed all that; they have shaken two widely held beliefs to the core, leaving us bewildered, baffled, blindsided.
Core beliefs are the essence of how we see ourselves, other people, our world. They develop over time; they are strongly held, rigid, inflexible, and are often maintained by a tendency to focus on information that supports that belief. The last time a pope resigned was 600 years ago, and millions of us watched Pistorius, a double amputee athlete, sprint down the track at the London Olympics – pretty convincing stuff.
Have we put the Pope and Pistorius on pedestals? Undoubtedly. The Pope was placed there by his peers; Pistorius ran all the way up the steps. Being the pope for life is a “tough gig”, and the pressure of celebrity must be enormous for both of them. It now appears our widely held beliefs that “popes are for life” and “athletes are heroes forever” need changing. Changing a core belief is actually quite easy; you simply stop believing them. It doesn’t take much time… In these two scenarios, it was a matter of days.