Thursday, June 25, 2015

Seeking An Honest Viewpoint

MERS, and the reports received have been criticized by many for their lack of clarity, and for the many false rumors associated with the outbreak of the disease. Plenty of blame for the government and mass media, consequently, the  priest columnist in the Catholic Times, wants us to  see everything from the eyes of the poor.

This kind of talk quickly gets picked up as leftist, communistic rant by those who don't appreciate the great good done by our free enterprise system. Is it not an act of simple politeness to try to understand the other in the most benign way possible? A poor person has no standing in society and will see reality without the prejudices that the privileged ones have of their society. We can also see this within the church. Pope Francis is upsetting many precisely because he wants to view society and the church with the eyes of the poor.

Information is not always transmitted fully is a problem, but not passed on correctly is more of a problem. Mass media is influenced by ideologies, and pressure from power which diminishes freedom. Big money and connections with big business influences the freedom of the media. Consequently, it is difficult for the media to be objective and neutral. Even with the MERS epidemic we see how this reality influenced much of the reporting.

The failure to report the facts does great harm to our democracy. Without all the facts the citizens are not able to make the right decisions. "Information is among the principal instruments of democratic participation. Participation without an understanding of the situation of the political community, the facts and the proposed solutions to problems is unthinkable. It is necessary to guarantee a real pluralism in this delicate area of social life, ensuring that there are many forms and instruments of information and communications. It is likewise necessary to facilitate conditions of equality in the possession and use of these instruments by means of appropriate laws. Among the obstacles that hinder the full exercise of the right to objectivity in information, special attention must be given to the phenomenon of the news media being controlled by just a few people or groups. This has dangerous effects for the entire democratic system when this phenomenon is accompanied by ever closer ties between governmental activity and the financial and information establishments" ( Social Compendium of the Church #414).

Religious people need a sensitivity to discern; from the flood of information that surrounds us we need to select the correct information. The columnist stresses we have to read and see what is presented with the eyes of the poor. News that incites us to progress and development and inflames our greed we have to suspect. On the other hand, information that cares for the poor, appreciates the solidarity of humanity, respects workers is serving the common good. 

We need to criticize the information that is false, and slanted against the poor. No matter from where this kind of incorrect information comes, citizens have to  speak out,entering into the debate and speaking in the public square. This shows we are a mature democracy:  teaching the  social gospel, and acting as mature citizens and Christians.