Tuesday, 4 August 2020

The Corona Virus: What are We to Learn? Post 7

Please see
The Corona Virus: What are We to Learn?  Post 1

The Corona Virus: What are We to Learn?  Post 2

The Corona Virus: What are We to Learn?  Post 3
The Corona Virus: What are We to Learn?  Post 4

The Corona Virus: What are We to Learn?  Post 5
The Corona Virus: What are We to Learn?  Post 6

It has been some time since I last wrote a post within this series and there are two reasons for this. One is that I basically said what I needed to say in regard to this issue. The second is that I became more concerned with another issue within society -- especially American society -- and that was the hostility within their political system. In certain ways, what I presented in regard to weaknesses within the responses to Covid were even further highlighted within the present realm of American politics. There is no thoughtful discussion. It is one group yelling 'I'm right and you're wrong' and the other yelling the same thing. At a time when thought should dominate, reason is so absent in many places within our present world. This was a major theme in regard to my Corona posts. It has now become, for too many, the normative response to almost everything in our world.

This has actually now taken me back to Covid. Our response to this pandemic should be the issue and the objective should be how best to deal with this difficult issue on its many different levels. As we have stated -- the issue is most complex and touches upon various medical, psychological and financial concerns. The further problem is that Corona seems to be -- again, for too many -- just part of another agenda. The American Presidential Election seems to have taken centre stage. The reporting on Corona and the directives concerning Corona seems -- to a, sadly, large extent -- to have more to do with what will best serve to ensure the desired election result than what is the best response to Corona.

This is not to say that the actual experts involved in dealing with Corona are so obviously biased in their responses. With such a complex issue as Corona, we should expect to find divergence in learned opinion. The problem I am addressing actually occurs on the next level -- how people respond to such legitimate divergence in thought. Do you see people honestly presenting both views on a matter? Do you see people being honest about how their choice of the opinion to follow actually reflects agendas in other regards? Of course not, for actually showing the complexity of the matter would only impact negatively on the desired agenda. This agenda is served by presenting the solution simply and without issue.

The result is then conflict. We are not talking about debate, even heated debate. In the honest voicing of disagreement, divergent views are at least presented and, as such, all positions become subject to analysis, critique and evaluation. What we are experiencing today, though, is the dominance of presentations of one viewpoint as the only legitimate position; an advocate of a different perspective is only mocked. There is little if any desire, let alone opportunity, for dialogue and discussion. The result is, therefore, a development of conflict, even hostility. This may not be because those, on this level, maintaining these positions necessarily have the associated agendas. It is because the ones with these agendas are able to voice these underlying views as if they are the only legitimate opinions -- and this is what is passed on. This conflict actually serves their desired goals better. The response to Covid is complex but an agenda is simple -- and it just has to be sold. The one hearing only one side of an issue is an easy person to bring on board. A hostility toward the divergent view actually serves the agenda because it will hinder dialogue and the chance to think which could lead someone to reject the agenda.

The events within the book of  Bamidbar actually reflect this teaching about how the avoidance of dialogue can be used to further negative agendas and how such dialogue, alternatively, can be applied to reach the greater good. The spies and Korach's people not only voiced their agenda but they wanted to prevent any further dialogue and consideration of the issues. This is because their goal was solely their agenda with no consideration of the further issues. In distinction, the cases of the B'not Tzelaphchad and the tribes of Reuvain and Gad actually initiated discussion. This is because, while there were certain positions which were being advocated, a consideration of the broader issues and the greater good was also present. The outcome yielding the achieved conclusion was thus the result of discussion. Thought triumphed agenda. More so, agenda positively transformed into the greater good reflecting the true Will of God through this discussion and thought. (In the case of Reuvain and Gad, this would seem to be clear within the text itself. In the case of the B'not Tzelaphchad, this is, perhaps, more obvious within the midrashic literature on the matter.) Agendas can yield conflict because such distancing from honest dialogue serves agendas. Thought, however, demands true dialogue yielding a real consideration of what is best. This must be our goal.

This would now seem to be a further problem in our world today in regard to Covid. It is being used to serve other agendas and, thus, the issue is not being addressed with a true consideration of its depth but in the light of these other agendas. Conflicts, as such, which may arise in our lives due to Covid may have some legitimacy but they would then be recongnized as really demanding of us, for the betterment of all, to recognize the need for further dialogue and investigation of the issue. We are now, though, encountering conflicts whose sole purpose is to foster conflct and avoid such discussion, We must be truly careful of an outside agenda furthering its goal of hostility to serve its objective.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

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