Friday, March 6, 2020

Immunity Against an Unstable Society

Sweden is counted as one of the role models for a welfare state. In the Peace Column of the Catholic Peace Weekly, the columnist, specialist on welfare, gives the readers her ideas on the subject.                       
It was a surprise last year when the Democrats in Sweden (Conservatives) made a great leap forward in the general elections. The atmosphere in Northern Europe has been relatively friendly to the immigrants but is now turning against the refugees. There may be several reasons for this but the white person's fear of refugees is at work.

When a person fears, instinctively one goes into self-defense mode. In this situation, it is easy to reject or distort facts hoping to protect oneself. One uses the defense mechanism to free oneself from the threatening and anxious situation in which they find themselves. Anti-immigrant perceptions about losing jobs due to the influx of immigrants, fear of infection with the new coronavirus (Corona 19), rejecting and hating Asians are to protect ourselves.

The rising 'post-truth' phenomenon further stimulates and forms public opinion. Post-truth, the "displacement of truth", refers to a phenomenon in which public opinion appeals to personal beliefs, and feelings, more influential than objective facts. With the advent of social media (SNS) such as Kakao, Facebook, and YouTube, this influence continues to increase. The problem is fake news spreads along with the post-truth trends in society and the cognitive biases—attachment to subjective reality— that follows destroys our social integration.

Such narrow-minded thoughts and actions toward people in economically deprived countries and the socially underprivileged are the cause of deepening inequality.

In the midst of this, Pope Francis is proposing active solutions through SNS for various problems facing humanity. In the age of interactive communication through advanced IT technology, it may be an opportunity to spread the culture of mutual respect.

The Pope has signed a joint declaration On Human Fraternity with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, condemning "acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression" carried out in the name of God. They pointed out that the cause of the crisis of suffering is due to the blunt human conscience and the spread of individualism.

The Polish sociologist Sigmund Baumann defined modern times as a period of unsettling anxiety, and current sociologists predicted that the "post-truth" era will continue for some time to come. How should we respond in this world? Rather than trying to find a scapegoat, the idea is that individuals, citizens, welfare groups, the media, and governments jointly increase their sense of responsibility and strengthen their immune system against the evils of society based on basic guidelines that prioritize common good and human brotherhood.

In a pluralistic society, everyone has the right to individual freedom and assured of a decent life. The ethical responsibility we all have to achieve this should not be overlooked. Our community immunity towards the unstable society in which we live has to begin with us.

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