Over the past few days, there has been what seems to me to be a growing alarm among members of the media, and therefore the public at large, regarding a flu, which was first described as "swine flu," and then out of deference to the hard-hit pork industry, relabeled the H1N1 flu virus. I guess many people were thinking that they had better not eat pork products since "swine" were causing the flu, which is actually not the case. The Centers for Disease Control has said that the flu virus is not food borne, and therefore eating pork is not a problem. All the backtracking reminded me, once again, that we are after all, dealing with a media-created mass hysteria.
Thinking about the immense amount of coverage the flu virus has received leads to all sorts of ideas, including the headline from last week that Sebelius was on the fast track because of the possible flu pandemic. This was so because her new role as head of the Department of Health and Human Services would put her in the center of the controversy. As the McClatchy news web site reported prior to her confirmation
As head of the largest piece of the federal health care bureaucracy, Sebelius would oversee an array of agencies. Several play important roles in the effort to understand the previously unknown strain of flu and how to combat it should it develop into a full-blown public health crisis.
I suppose Americans should feel a little less anxious just knowing that the Senate has graciously confirmed this expert maven direct from the culture of death. We presume she will have the health and wellbeing of most Americans in mind, though not that segment yet to be born. Somehow, my discomfort with her appointment has not been assuaged, however. But then again, I am one of those absolutists who believe that every human being should be protected from all manner of threat including murder by abortion.
As the H1N1 saga continues to unfold, one young Catholic priest, Father Rudy Vasquez, from Corpus Christi, Texas, wrote
Over the past few days, the storm of the swine flu pandemic fear has gripped our city too. Several of our students are talking about it as well. I am not a public health official; I would like to offer a response of faith.
When panic and fear set in, there are two fundamental ways to respond, with faith and with reason. First, reason… It is easy to be afraid when people talk about sickness and death, our inclination is to respond with irrational behavior and overreaction. At the same time, we should always be smart and take the proper precautions. Follow the advice of the experts, not the commentators or politicians.
As Christians, we rely on God's help. Sickness is a result of sin, a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve, not a punishment from God. As Christians, we trust in the Lord, who is at our side. We put our faith in him. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Mt. 6:27). And if this pandemic, this illness becomes greater, then, God's will be done.
Remember the words of the Risen Lord to his disciples, echoed by Pope John Paul II, "be not afraid". …
Indeed, Father Vasquez has made a genuine contribution to the discussion by reminding us that the last people on earth who delve into actual facts are those who make their living as commentators or politicians. Absolutely brilliant, Father!
Getting to the source of the original flu outbreak, Father Tom Euteneuer had a bit of a different perspective:
As loathe as I am to sully the good name of "swine" by relating them to abortion, there is a story in the Mexican swine flu epidemic that you will not hear broadcast by the major media or lamented in the stories of its victims: it is the connection between the epidemic and the legalization of abortion in Mexico.
The swine flu scare was "officially" announced on Friday, the 24th of April, two days before our pilgrimage was set to begin. The outbreak at that time was mostly limited to Mexico City, which seemed to be the epicenter of the viral storm and where 20 people had already died (although it appears that the facts are not yet in on the causes of these and other suspected "swine flu" deaths).
Despite the scare, 35 of our pilgrims decided to risk it and bring their intentions to the feet of Our Lady at the place where she chose to manifest her love to the people of that land in 1531. However – and this is the connection – it was also on April 24th, two years ago to the day that abortion was legalized in Mexico City, setting such an evil precedent for the whole nation. The connection just seems too eerie to be coincidental.
While some might dismiss this eerie connection as meaningless, I would have to suggest that perhaps we need to give this some very serious thought. Father Vasquez tells us clearly that trusting in the Lord and reflecting on his presence in the midst of the world at every moment should help us to see that even in the midst of the current worry about the flu and the threat that it could affect someone in our family, we should not be afraid. But we should be aware that there are worse diseases, some of which corrupt and even kill the immortal soul. One such disease would be the acceptance of abortion and contraception, neither of which rates a blip on any media radar screen these days.
Sometimes it's hard for us to put tragedy into the proper perspective but in this case, I believe we have a golden opportunity to do just that. This frenzy over the flu helps us understand to what extent the media not only forms our opinions, but gives rise to our concerns and masterminds the foundation for even those events which turn out to be far less worrisome than originally reported. I think we've had enough "terrorist threats" and other such frightening stories that sometimes it's better to get all the facts before reporting a crisis that turns out to be not such a big deal after all.
As I write this, for example, the latest headlines about the H1N1 flu make my point.
Fox News states "As Flu Spreads, Details Get Out Slower" Apparently youngsters are being described as ill with the flu even though they do not have it, and parents are left to their own resources as to how to quell false rumors.
CNN reports in "Confirmed Cases of H1N1 approach 900": "The World Health Organization is stating that the swine flu outbreak could gain momentum in the months ahead, despite claims by the health secretary of Mexico – the epicenter of the outbreak – that the virus 'is in its declining phase.'"
Finally, the Washington Post web site reports "Health Officials Are Wary but Hopeful" and "top health officials here [Washington, D.C.] and abroad projected yesterday a cautious optimism that the new virus is not as lethal as initially feared… In Mexico, Health Secretary José Ángel Córdova said that the outbreak is "in its declining phase."
Three different news sources all reporting the facts and each presenting a different spin on what many are suggesting is the worst scare we've had in a quite some time, whether it is real or inflated beyond imagination.
It's a lesson in power, this H1N1 flu story, and I surely do not know how it will all turn out. But there is something rather sinister in what I have seen. While those who are sincerely concerned about health and welfare are urging precaution and suggesting ways to cut the risks, others are fanning the flames, building the hype and telling us that the worst is probably not yet known.
I think I understand now why the media has never addressed the health implications of various contraceptives and abortion. The media is not diligent when the subjects in question conflict with their agenda.
This is why they haven't been diligent in reporting the horrible side effects of abortion. Studies abound, but abortion is the sacred cow. The same is true of contraception.
Why is it that with a virus outbreak, the media is all over the case, but with more than 36 years of facts to compile on the tragic side effects of contraception and abortion, nary a peep is ever heard?
Obviously there are some grave tragedies that must go unreported or blatantly denied in order for the public to continue feeling good about its sexual practices.
I hope that every person who has been infected with H1N1 flu recovers nicely, and I sincerely pray that it is indeed waning as I write.
But there is another virus that is not going away; it is a plague of enormous proportions that appears to grow with the passing of each hour. It is the apathy of the many toward the plight of the millions who have died, are dying and will die because viral denial is more convenient.