Can that Many People Be Wrong? A Question Arises from the Charlotte Unrest

Marge Fenelon

I had an appointment at the infusion clinic today.

No worries. It’s not as scary as it sounds – at least for me. I have a stubborn case of anemia and receiving iron via IV is more effective and longer-lasting than swallowing iron tablets.

But, it can be scary for the other patients there, all of whom come to the clinic to receive cancer treatments.

My “fix” is easy; theirs isn’t.

Two things happened while I was there.

First, as I was looking around the room at all of these heroes fighting a difficult battle my heart was moved to issue a call for prayer for them and for all folks fighting cancer.

So, I put it on my Facebook timeline, explaining where I was and why I was asking them to pray. My post received wonderful response.

That, I think, is when social media is at its very best.

Second, a had a thought-provoking conversation with the gentleman in the seat next to mine that pulled me into some deep soul searching. This kind, old gentleman called for my attention and asked me the reason I was being treated at the clinic. I answered, and asked his reason in return.

It was cancer, but he didn’t want to say what kind. He seemed to be struggling with the diagnosis and all that was coming with it. I felt so sad for him.

I let the conversation fade because I didn’t want to push him.

A short while later, he called my attention again. This time he had an entirely different kind of question for me.

“Ma’am, what do you think of all that’s going on in North Carolina right now?” he asked.

The man was sincere in his inquiry. In general, it’s a volatile subject and I wanted to respond carefully. I also didn’t know where he was coming from. and wanted to be respectful of his feelings and opinion.

My response to him was, “I don’t really understand going on there.”

That’s actually the truth. I haven’t read the news thoroughly in the last few days and so I only know that something got stirred up there. From the reports, an African-American man was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting.

That’s all I knew at the clinic, that’s all I know now.

I asked the man, “What do you think?”

“Well, I see it this way. How can that many people be wrong?” he replied.

Before I continue, let me clarify that it’s not what’s going on in Charlotte or the issue of police-involved shootings itself that is the subject of this post.

It’s the gentlemen’s response to my question.

“How can that many people be wrong?”

That same question can be applied in thousands of different circumstances. Being a Catholic author, my mind went immediately to spiritual things.

One term came to my mind: Mass-mindedness.

Again and again, we lean to popular opinion in the way to govern our lives instead of looking to Church teaching. We view issues like cohabitation, contraception, abortion, fashion (i.e., lack of modesty), entertainment, and so many others with a mass-minded approach.

How can that many people be wrong?

Whether we vocalize the question or subconsciously think it, that’s basically the guideline we often use in making moral and religious decisions. Rather, we should form educated opinions based on fact and recognized authorities.

I’m stopping again to clarify: I am NOT suggesting that the man next to me in the clinic does this, or is doing it in regard to the Charlotte shooting or any other question he has.

What I’m getting at is the exercise of moral conscience.

Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.49 It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking. (CCC 1777)

God speaks to us through the Magisterium of the Church. Sadly, we often tune him out and follow the opinion of the masses instead in matters both large and small.

I pray that we all will be reminded to avoid mass mindedness as a moral compass and instead adhere to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church.

That many people can be wrong.

One Comment

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