I am reminded again and again of why Poles, for a few decades, felt that their tiny complexed voice could be heard through this man and why they suffer the loss of their spokesperson, because really, in their eyes, this leaves them alone and vulnerable on the map all over again. And if you think I am exaggerating, listen to the spot TV interviews with Poles and the recurring themes: “other countries noticed us” “we felt protected” “he gave us courage” etc.
Yes, of course, the religiousness of the nation comes through. But it would be wrong to view this particular transition as important to only the devout Poles. History has created a pained nation. Not many world leaders pay much attention to this anymore. The Pope, of course, did, during all his years at the Vatican.
UPDATE: And now, at 2:23 CT, comes the announcement that the Pope has died. Such a well-lived life! Like Nina, I'm not Catholic. Still, I greatly admire the man. Hearing the news stories about him today and yesterday, I wondered if it was not the case that he was the greatest human being to have lived during my own lifetime. The world is a poorer place.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Nina has more from the Polish perspective here. (Excerpt: "Brzezinski was right in saying that of the 35 million Poles, 30 million realized, with that first Papal visit, that they shared a voice. But I don’t think it was a voice of utter hatred toward communism.")