The internet is both a blessing and a curse. It’s up to the user to choose which it will be. On the one hand there is so much genuinely and shiningly good to be accessed, and on the other there is the strange permission to lie and hate others for no particular reason,
And yet I think there is a reason there is so much more hatred spewed out over the net and it’s not as simple as the anonymity that being online can offer. It seems to me that hatred is almost always rooted in fear.
Jesus kept saying, “Do not be afraid.” 2000+ years later it was the refrain of Blessed Pope John Paul the Great. “Do not be afraid.”
Those of us with a dx of ME/cfs and Fibromyalgia face ignorance and nastiness from doctors all the time. Any co-morbid condition like POTS in its various flavours or other orthostatic intolerance (OI) face dismissal, rudeness and sheer maliciousness from medics so often it almost beggers belief. What is so astonishing is that this is not an isolated thing. It’s not even a one country thing. Patients from all over the world have face the same “group-think” of medics who obviously think they are within their rights to treat patients with the politically incorrect dx of ME/Cfs and it’s friends with utter contempt.
The mainstream media has jumped on the anti-the patient bandwagon (in fact it was the media who termed the phrase yuppie flu back in the ’80s ignoring the fact that the disease was across all walks of life and had horrible effects. Then even when a journalist tries to be a little more honest in his/her reporting, when it’s online, the comment boxes are full of strangely angry people denigrating a group of seriously ill people, they have never even met!
Jesus said the Truth would set us free and that’s certainly true – but lies can be very comforting, especially if you tend towards fear. I think those who are so willing to attack patients with ME do so because they fear the spread of the disease. It’s everywhere and is more often than not in huge clusters. Are people spewing hatred at people with ME because they fear it might reach them?
Wherever evil has held sway the sick and frail have been trampled under foot or just murdered. A world view that sees people as no more than cogs in the money making machine will always turn vicious towards those who can’t take part in the machine.
Our culture has no problem with people working themselves to death to make money for a company, but looks askance at carers who spend their time working to elevate the suffering of others. It’ was no coincidence that under the full scale consumer-capitalism that Britain was thrust into in the 1980s that both ME was labelled as “yuppie flu” that stay at home carers were dismissed as weak and that nurses couldn’t get a living wage while our patients lost so much in benefit payments that many ended up homeless (and the prisons started to fill up rather suspiciously quickly)
In light of this political thought, blasted through the media at full volume it is will little surprise that I hear of the viciousness and death threats spewed all over the Holy Father as he steps down. He is a good, gentle, humble and deeply holy man so of course there are those who hate him. He is in the utterly strange position of standing for Truth so he is adored on the one side and reviled on the other.
The hatred of the Holy Father is fascinating in some ways. Many of those who hate him insist that the old man is pointless and the Church has nothing to say, and yet it’s still him they attack and not any of the other religious leaders. The fact is that the Catholic Church stands alone as the last bastion against the culture of death. There are little boats sailing with us (as St. John Bosco saw in his prophetic dream) and they tend to be the Orthodox churches, although I believe some of them have caved on some issues around the sanctity and open to life nature of marriage. Orthodox Jews also stand firm against the culture, and of course there are individuals among the evangelicals and some muslims.
But the fact is the full on attack against the culture comes from that pointless old man they are all so afraid of.
For those of us who are sick, the witness of both Blesssed Pope John Paul and Papa Benedict in their own sickness and weakness is a true inspiriation. In their witness we find we do have value as persons no matter what the culture tries to tell us.
Those of us who have lived through a few popes now have been in the blessed position of seeing saints sitting on the Chair of Peter. Just as the first 500+ years of the Church was packed with saintly Popes, so it seems the last 400 years of the Church has seen the same. Whether the next man is a saint or not, we are still facing the darkness and we are called by Christ to not be afraid.