Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu and "Flurry of Alarmism" - or a Rational Response

Another unit in the American Catholic Church has published an article about the swine flu / influenza 2009 H1N1:
"Flu/Swine Flu Guidelines"
The Catholic Sun (April 30, 2009) (published twice a month by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona)

"Editor's note: In light of the much-publicized 'Swine Flu' outbreak in various parts of the world including in our own country, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has directed Fr. Kieran Kleczewski, executive director of the Office of Worship, and Fr. John Muir, associate director, to develop the following guidelines that Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix may find helpful. At the present time these guidelines are voluntary:

"With the outbreak of 'Swine Flu' in Mexico and other parts of the world including the United States, in order to promote safety and health in public worship and assist in alleviating undue anxiety among the faithful, it seems prudent to issue the following liturgical guidelines for the Diocese of Phoenix...."
This one's a bit more detailed than what the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis published, but it's basically the same approach: wash your hands, don't sneeze on people - and use common sense. (More at "Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Swine Flu " (April 30, 2009).)

New Disease: Familiar Attitude

I think there's a familiar pattern emerging, in the way some circles react to the swine flu:
"Swine Flu Is Bad, But Panic Is Dangerous"
CBS News (April 30, 2009)
"Governments Often Overreact To Influenza Outbreaks; Declan McCullagh Offers Some Historic Perspective"

"...Cable TV hosts - in a flurry of alarmism ably captured by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show - have pressed the panic button. Repeatedly...."
For starters, CBS is an old-school, traditional news organization - the sort of outfit that's threatened by the (to them) new cable media.

I get the impression that the 'intelligent' and 'sophisticated' people - in America, at least - have been distancing themselves from the "flurry of alarmism" connected with influenza 2009 H1N1.
Panic, No: Concern, Yes
Not panicking is a good idea. I can't think of a situation that would be improved by panicking, come to think of it.

And, I've seen remarkably little signs of panic in America. That observation wouldn't count for much, but Reuters noticed the same thing: "In US, there's anxiety over swine flu but no panic" (Reuters (April 28, 2009)).

So, What's With this "Flurry of Alarmism"?

I think we're looking at the upper crust of American society reacting in a fairly predictable way: distancing themselves from the rabble.

Quite a number of people around the world are very concerned about the spread of influenza 2009 H1N1. Some, like those running Egypt, have been a bit hasty: Egyptian pig farmers rioted when their government ordered around 400,000 hogs slaughtered.

Here in America, though, the government is taking what I think is a rational approach (aside from a few politicos who want to close the Mexican border).

And, the Catholic Church is also reacting in what I think is a reasonable way: publishing information, and reminding people that personal hygiene is much more important, now that a potentially lethal disease is making the rounds.

Unlike those who like to be great thinkers and profound observers, the Catholic Church has a responsibility to deal rationally and practically with the real world: not with the world as we would like it to be.

Thanks to thecatholicsun on Twitter, for the the heads-up on this.

List of posts relating to Swine flu 2009; and list of background resources, in another blog:
List of posts relating to my view of "sophistication," American style:

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.