Troy's Take: All Roads Lead to Falmouth
By: Troy Clarkson, October 7, 2013
All roads lead to Falmouth
That’s a familiar refrain that I often share with colleagues and friends who don’t live in our community and thus have not had the opportunity to experience firsthand the wide-reaching network of Falmouthites across the globe. In the spirit of the popular concept of “six degrees of separation” introduced by Hungarian author and playwright Frigyes Karinthy, it’s my experience that it usually takes only two or three associations to connect someone or some event back to Falmouth.
In my family, we’ve even made our own game of it. When Donna and I travel with our nephews Jack and William Perkins, we lay down a friendly wager on how many people we’ll encounter with a direct connection to Falmouth or me, never mind six degrees of separation. I’ve enjoyed many free lunches based on this wager. At some point, Jack, William, and Donna all became believers in the primacy of Falmouth as a global center of culture, intellectual exchange, and political thought. They thus have relented and now count themselves as Falmouthites.
The final epiphany for Donna came last winter when we were on a brief sojourn to St. Maarten. The morning after we arrived, as we headed down the hill in the blazing sunlight to enjoy a morning on the beach, a fellow vacationer jogged up toward us. He slowed, smiled, and pointed in knowing attentiveness. “Hey, you’re the guy who writes for the paper,” he exclaimed with jubilance. We said hello. Donna bought lunch. We don’t play the game anymore. Falmouth and the Enterprise have gone global.
Given that omnipresence of all things Falmouth across this third rock from the sun, it comes as no surprise that an accomplished journalist and man of faith with a direct connection to Falmouth was at the center of one of the most significant papal interviews in a generation.
When his eminence Pope Francis granted an interview with the Reverend Matt Malone, a Jesuit priest who grew up in Mashpee and graduated from Falmouth High School, his words signaled a long-awaited (and perhaps overdue) message of tolerance.
The leader of the world’s one billion Catholics, when asked about his views on homosexuality, simply noted, “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.” With that one statement, the pontiff has noted to the entirety of the Catholic faithful that, in his infallible opinion, the church should be a bastion of inclusion, a house of worship open to endorsing with love, not a closed and gloomy edifice of anger, condemning with scorn. No matter your religious views, the transformation that this statement represents is an historic move toward a global culture of acceptance. In my opinion, we need more of that.
I’m sure I am not the only observer who took note of the strange and ironic juxtaposition of the pope’s message of love and tolerance against the backdrop of pasta magnate Guido Barilla making decidedly intolerant comments just a few hundred miles away within days of the pope’s historic offering. “We won’t include gays in our ads, because we like the traditional family. If gays don’t like it, they can always eat another brand of pasta. Everyone is free to do what they want, provided it doesn’t bother anyone else.”
If I didn’t know better, I would swear that Guido was channeling his inner Elmer Fudd, telling himself that, “Fwankwy, ignowance is the best policy.” By blathering his message of rejection and excoriating an entire population, Mr. Barilla has created a worldwide foofaraw focusing on the modern family and has loudly demonstrated that the words and work of the pontiff are not enough to declare victory in the war on ignorance and intolerance.
His eminence was correct. “We must always consider the person.” Success in relationships and success in the world may very well be that simple. Consider others before you consider yourself. I like that. Maybe there is a lesson in the words of both Pope Francis and Guido Barilla.
The six (or fewer) degrees of separation hold in Italy as well as Falmouth. I’m sure we can find some Falmouthite with a connection to Mr. Barilla. We’ll embark on a pilgrimage of peace to pasta land. While we’re at it, let’s send Fr. Malone to Parma to see if he can draw some love and tolerance out of Guido.
Mr. Clarkson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @TroyClarkson59.