by Fr Richard Heilman | April 20, 2020 4:37 AM
Fr. Bill Peckman posted this on Facebook on April 19, 2020, just as Divine Mercy Sunday was concluding. Thank you, Father, for such clarity and sage advice:
What’s on my mind?
There is a lot of opinions, often vitriolic, about the state of our own country under Covid-19.
May I make a few preliminary observations?
The USA is a nation of more than 320 million people spread throughout about 3.8 million square miles.
There are areas of very high population density and very low population density. Covid-19 is not evenly spreading throughout those 3.8 million square miles. Some places like the northeast corridor are suffering far greater than the rural areas of the great plains.
Those 320 million people are all over every single spectrum politically, religiously, psychologically, educationally, and otherwise. Being in a wealthy country where even the bottom 20% socioeconomically consume more than the middle classes of developed nations, we are used to getting what we want, when we want, and how we want.
Most have deeply engrained beliefs on everything. We are a busy society. Life under quartatine seems like house arrest to many.
We have a media that runs on fear. Fearful people hang on their every word, however contradictory those words might be. Fearful people make poor decisions.
Imagine trying to govern a nation or state right now. There is no right move that will spare people of pain. Fear is a great place to govern if you have autocratic tendancies and a nightmarish place if you don’t. Those in power will not let a crisis go to waste.
To make matters worse, this country is divided down so many political and ideological fault lines that one can scarcely move without causing a tremor. So all medical information will be translated through those prisms.
To make matters still worse, as religion has been castigated and abandoned in society by all but a minority, the stabilizing hope it brings is gone and replaced by a fear and hopelessness.
Add in that this pandemic has done what little else has done: it has become a means of shutting down all sense of normalcy in most people’s lives: churches, stores, schools, places of employment, parks, and most of the normal landscape of life. Of course tensions will run high and tempers will flare! Especially when a one size fits all mentality is thrust upon all 320 million.
Why do I write this?
First, so that everyone would take a big chill pill and step outside of their own opinions and try to understand why people are seeing the same thing differently. The vision of a person living in a hotspot like NYC is going to be different than a person living in a county in rural America that has no diagnosed cases. They will ask different questions and have different frustrations. Understand that. People are scared about their financial futures, their health, and so on. One will see government overrreach where another sees government intervention. Understand that. We will do a lot better getting through this if we stop trying to shame, chastise, and punish each other.
I end with this: for about a week after 9/11 we Americans forgot all our differences and united. This is making 9/11 look like a walk in the park. We have got to quit nurturing our ideological differences and bind together with charity and mercy. That will probably mean telling the national media to take a long walk off a short pier.
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