Have we paused to ask ourselves how much of our consciousness is defined by the screen—the prepacked media delivered into the palms of our hands—rather than what we see with our eyes? How much of our intelligence have we ceded to the propagandists?
May I suggest taking your eyes off the screen and looking around you. As a priest for 30 years, I know thousands of people personally. How many of those thousands have tested positive for Covid? The answer is three. One is a 94-year-old woman with multiple pre-existing conditions whom I’ve anointed a few times at her nursing home. She tested positive for Covid a few weeks ago but has no symptoms and feels fine. The second person is a 40-year-old priest friend who got symptoms last week, tested positive, and is quarantined at home with a “sore throat and no sense of taste.” We are cheering him on and praying for him via text. And the third person is a 70-year-old female who has suffered pretty seriously from the virus, was in the hospital for a few days, and is now at home on the mend. Now, there may be many more that have contracted Covid, but have not been tested. But they are not sick. They may have the virus, like we all have cancer cells in our bodies, but we are not sick.
Covid is real, but please know that the news reports on Covid are largely unreal. Actual hospitalization numbers easily obtainable on local hospital websites will show a much less alarming picture. Unfortunately, the hysteria and social chaos generated by the media industry is also real. We cannot ignore the fact that the obvious discrepancy between media reports and hospital reports is taking place in an election year. Note two facts: 1) those who control the media have stated a vitriolic opposition to our incumbent president. 2) a proven means of unseating an elected official is to induce fear among the incumbent’s constituents.
The good news is that you can look out your window and see God’s peaceful order in the flowers and the trees, the earth and sky and sea. You can choose to look at the order and beauty around you rather than giving in to the dramatic fear portrayed on your cellphones. You can break your addiction to the internet and the news cycles. So please: at least balance the weaponized politics on your phones with a look around you, at the real world. It is beautiful, peaceful, and joyful.