Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Some Thoughts for Ash Wednesday

The advancement of science is extraordinary but not always for the good of humanity. So begins an article by a Catholic priest, Catholic University professor, in the Kyeongyang magazine asking the readers to be alert and discerning.

Material comforts have not made us more human; the longer life span has not made us happier; nor has the information age decreased loneliness and alienation. Biochemistry can fashion a new human; a need to face new questions on morality and life. The Coronavirus because of the progress in transportation within two months the virus spread throughout the world.

The information age has influenced our society greatly. We can't say it has all been for the good. We have false news, not always helping us to draw nearer to the truth. Hate speech, desires, and divisions in society have increased. How do Christians in the flood of information find their way?

The word 'infodemic' is an overabundance of information, both online and offline. It includes deliberate attempts to disseminate wrong information to undermine the public health response. Many cognitive scientists have said the multitasking may have improved but our attention span has decreased, memories shortened and what is worse our ability to go deeper into issues has been blocked.  

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu holds that modern means of communication especially television exploits our passion and works against democracy.

The amount of information that pours out befuddles our minds. In one way or another, it is for the most part slanted—it is not objective or neutral. This bent of the news is accepted by those with the same inclination, reinforces their ideology, and becomes like a religion. At this stage, anything that agrees with their ideology is accepted, that which is contrary disregarded.

"The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption" (Joy of the Gospel #55).

How are we Christians to live in this uncontrollable world with infodemic and false news? We can't be without the media but he recommends that we distance ourselves in some way from immersion. If we dissociate ourselves from social media we will deepen our thinking and judgments,  have more time for prayer.

We need also to change our style of living and intentions. To have more and live more comfortably will not help us change the world where pandemics will be fewer.

St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises mentions the importance of discernment. We have the two banners, one of Jesus and the other of Lucifer. The banner of Jesus has poverty, embarrassment, humility, the one with Lucifer has riches and honors. The more we empty ourselves the more we will be filled with light. The less the world attracts us with its abundance, development, efficiency profit, and the like, freed from a  strong attachment to possessions and power, the better we will see the poor, and those hurting and feel closer to them. We need to distance ourselves from the many idols in society. "We should not be sleeping like the others, we should be awake and sober" (1Thes. 5-6). 

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