Certainty and my limited view

Yesterday I visited the Fox News home page, just to see what they were talking about over there. I’ve never actually done that before, because I’ve got so many other things to do and really just haven’t wanted to. I like the New York Times, and I like the stories that pop up on my Facebook feed from Mother Jones and CNN.

But a Facebook friend posted an article from the NYT about how healthcare workers were estimating numbers of cases in NYC. She was frustrated that they were making things up. I wouldn’t have thought to look at it that way. I wonder how my perception of the pandemic would be different if I were watching different news sources. We watch CBS in the morning and CNN at night, and those sources are leaning on scientists for insight. I also get the sense that limitations on testing are a result of choices and priorities made by the administration, not a failing of the CDC.

The Fox News home page had a photo of a Chinese leader and a big Chinese flag as its main image. Another headline blamed the CDC for lack of testing. People in Michigan protesting the restrictions imposed by the governor there. My brain saw racism and misdirection, and I clicked out of the site.

I reacted so strongly to the framing of the message that I turned away from the suffering, pain and frustration inherent in it. I’m so certain in my trust of scientists and Minnesota’s governor that I dismiss the protests in Michigan as unproductive and a misdirection of effort. I turn away rather than finding empathy. Today I’ll pray for clarity and open-mindedness, to act where I can for middle grounds that keep people fed and working while not undermining efforts to slow the virus.

Father Clay speaks to the idea of stepping away from certainty here:

Being With God

We can pray about this. So just sit back, relax and close your eyes, keep your back straight, breathe slowly and deeply, slowly and deeply. Let the cares, the worries, the fears, the hates, the anger, the vengeance and the cruelty, the bitterness, loneliness and depression fall away.

We are surrounded by love, the love we name God. That love holds us, embraces us, cradles us, looks at us tenderly and with compassion. That love lives deep within our souls and bubbles up with poerful, healing energy.

Gracious love, help us to be willing to change and grow. It’s so easy for us to get stuck along the way. We stunt our growth when we are so very sure that the way we see things is the way they really are. Help us to let that go.

When I think that my vision is all there is, I have no incentive to grow and I will be stuck. Help me to be tolerant of myself during this long, hard and difficult journey. Help me to be patient with myself.

It’s hard to let go of my need for certainty. Help all of my sisters and brothers to grow. They too find it hard to let go and they get stuck just as I do. Help us all to be open to your love. As we rest in that love, help us not to be afraid to change, and not to be afraid to be transformed, not to be afraid to let go of the way we have always thought about things or done things. Help us to see new visions.

Loving God, we open our hearts and our minds and our souls to you. Help us to become what you want us to be.

Excerpted from the homily “Being with God” in Surrounded by Love, (c) 2005

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