One thing I took from my college seminary education was to be a critical thinker. I do not swallow hook, line and sinker everything I am told without first examining and questioning matters on many levels. While I truly try to see the best in people, I realize not everything you think you observe and what people tell you are always correct. Unfortunately, people lie and try to manipulate others. Circumstances are not always what they appear to be. A person's motivation is not always what we think it is. It is best to have some degree of skepticism and to employ critical thinking when it comes to the information that is presented to us.
Our ultimate goal should be to get to the truth. My mind—what I think—needs to conform to reality. I have heard it said in some situations: "My truth is not your truth!" However, there can only be a singular truth. Something is what it actually is, not what we would like it to be. Most likely, a person is confusing truth with opinion. We can have various opinions, but there is only one final truth.
We need to apply critical thinking to our current pandemic. Ask those probing questions. Do not automatically believe everything you are told. There are varying opinions out there—sometimes even directly contradicting each other—and everyone can not be absolutely correct at the same time.
Doctors, scientists and others differ whether continued, prolonged social distancing is really in everyone's best interest. Maybe for the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and in certain restricted areas, it may be beneficial. It now seems that the average, healthy person will recover from this virus. Our immune systems will kick in, like they are supposed to do. Yes, there may be exceptions, but that is the case with almost every disease known to man.
Are masks for all necessary or harmful? Arguments are given on both sides of the issue. I have read them. Will a vaccination be the solution? Some think not, while others want to vaccinate the entire world. Did we need all of those ventilators? Were the many make-shift field hospitals underused and, perhaps, unnecessary? Did the known drugs such as hydroxychloroquine actually work when treating this corona virus? Was the number of people dying from the virus itself (not from a pre-existing, underlying condition) inflated for financial, political or other reasons? Did political motivation factor into decision making and policy? Should churches have been closed universally while liquor stores, pot dispensaries and abortion clinics were left in operation? Are voices of dissenting opinion being silenced because they disagree with those in charge? These and other questions need to be answered until the truth—stripped of spin or bias—is uncovered.
I want to see you, my parishioners, return to Mass. It's time. Might some be hesitant to return? Certainly. Should the elderly or the sick be cautious? Of course. Some might need to continue to stay home for a while. Should the average, healthy person be permitted to practice his or her faith? Emphatically I say Yes! According to WebMD: early estimates predict that the overall COVID-19 recovery rate is between 97% and 99.75%. Most people will survive this pandemic.
With time, I hope the facts do not reveal that our quarantine, social distancing, masks, etc. were a huge overreaction to a unknown virus—perhaps no worse than a really, really bad flu season—fueled by media hype, fear of the unknown and other factors.
The only place where I am assured that truth is found is in Jesus Christ.
He tells us: I am the way, the truth and the life. (Jn. 14:6) I believe Him. Everyone else is currently suspect.
Fr. Ed Namiotka