Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation this week because he claimed, due to his advanced age, that he could no longer adequately perform the duties required of him. But what the Pope doesn't understand is that just because you're unable to do a good job doesn't mean you should quit. Nearly everyone around you is barely capable of washing their hands properly, let alone their actual jobs, and you don't see them quitting, do you?
Take me for example. I sometimes "forget" to put pants on in the office. I occasionally "nap" "at" my desk. I've shown up to client meetings "sober." I've eaten most of a pencil. But I don't quit, because I have some "dignity" and because I enjoy money.
I spent a year as a teacher. I was woefully underqualified. I kept calling the students the wrong names. And my lesson plans were just lists I had copied and pasted from BuzzFeed. But I didn't quit, because what kind of example would I be setting for the children? Also I got free cafeteria lunches.
And I'm not alone. The world was built by people who didn't have the energy to do a good job, but showed up anyway because they didn't have anything else on their schedule. Every day, a therapist will mentally zone out while his patient begs for help. Every day an aging corporate executive will nod his way through a meeting. Every day, school lunch ladies approximate meatloaf and call it a day. This is the world.
I understand that people want to achieve the best. I once had aspirations to be the world's greatest musician, working diligently to change the way people communicate emotions. I told myself that if I didn't do my job brilliantly, I'd rather not do it at all.
But doing a great job is really hard. And maybe if mankind wasn't meant to phone it in sometimes, it wouldn't be so easy for us to do just that.
In fact what keeps most of us from laying unwashed on the couch all day is the threat of getting fired or dying of loneliness. But the Pope can't get fired and he is like the world's proudest virgin. This is why Popes don't resign. He could loudly fart in the middle of St. Peter's, the sound echoing in the central dome, and suffer no consequences whatsoever. And yet now he believes he is unable to meet even this standard.
The truth is that being Pope is not a hard job. He has no commute. No boss. He lives in a palace which is technically its own country. What part of this is so difficult? Is the Vatican Internet slow? Does Seamless not deliver there?
People do not expect the Pope to rescue children from burning buildings. In fact, the opposite. History will judge a Pope kindly if the number of children abused under his watch marginally decreases from the number abused under his predecessor. That is not a high bar.
I work in an office. Sometimes the copier is broken. Sometimes people figure out that "someone" is stealing their lunches from the refrigerator. Sometimes your office crush will find the note you wrote her in red marker, but she'll think it was written in blood, and you'll have a huge misunderstanding on your hands.
And I don't live in a palace. I live in a New York apartment with more roaches than square feet. But I'm in the office four hours a day, three days a week, 46 weeks a year. And I plan on doing this forever because showing up, flaws and all, is who I am.
And so I urge the Pope to reconsider. God did not bless all of mankind with talents or brilliance or even the ability to consistently put shirts on outside-out. But He gave us each other, a world community of fellow incompetents who get from one day to the next by doing the least we can to get by. And in our brief time on Earth, it's warmly beautiful that we get to slack off together.
So I beg the Pope to recycle some old encyclicals. Cut down on travel. And if he wants to babble incoherently, we'll "pretend" not to notice. Because if he stays Pope, for the rest of his life, he'll be just like one of us.