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Δευτέρα, 28 Νοεμβρίου, 2022

Fr. Stavros Kofinas: “Health, anti-vaccine propaganda”

A World Council of
Churches and Conference of European Churches online regional consultation on
the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Challenges faced by
European churches and society during the pandemic. Where does this lead us?
 

“Health, anti-vaccine propaganda”

Our health (physical, psychological, and spiritual) defines the way we
interact in the experiences of life. The “healthy” person who feels real and
alive is able to incorporate his and her being into the whole, to be a significant
part of a universal experience that is not centered around one’s self, without
feeling that personal autonomy, genuineness and a sense of worth is at state. Thus,
one’s existential fulfillment as a person is determined on how one
participates, interacts, co-exists in the catholicity of being. To fully
participate in this catholicity, one has to develop and maintain a sense of
ontological security – a basic sense of trust – that will allow one to cope
with the “enemies” (the difficulties) that threaten life – the greatest being
death. Without a sense of security and trust, the circumstances of daily life and
human relationships will be a living threat, a sheer hell, and one will have to
contrive ways to preserve a sense of being. The inner threat of the self
is often projected as an outer enemy that needs to be defeated. When an outer
threat is real – as in the case of the Covid-19 virus – one’s inner threats
become even more horrifying. To deal with this, one will create one’s own
reality, denying the threat that surely exists.
 Thus, one will form one’s own world in
which he or she will be able to fully control to preserve one’s autonomy and
identity, so that the projected or real “enemy” will not invade and destroy
one’s sense of being.
Such a defensive reaction, based on denial and
displacement, harbors fear to the point of paranoia, anger and, on a social
level, a type of group or “tribal” isolation – separateness. This separateness
does not mean that the experiences of the world will not affect him or her. On
the contrary, these experiences will be in interpreted and processed within the
unreal world the threatened self has created. 

It is necessary for us to understand
these dynamics to understand why there has been such an adverse reaction to the
way many have delt with the pandemic that has come upon us. The new virus
threatens both the insecure self and the social realm that constitutes one’s being;
the “freedom to be” as a narcissistic entity and the possible implosion of the
“world” one has created for himself to feel protected from all inner and outer
“enemies”.  When these dynamics are
coupled with the immediate threat of death, a feeling of social injustice and
discrimination, a lack of education or misinformation, they become explosively
dangerous.

The anti-vaccination propaganda that
we are witnessing is an overt expression of this phenomena. It is based on the
need to have full control of what enters our body in fear of the unknown.
The
propagators are arguing to preserve their ontological beings so as not to be engulfed
into the masses. It cultivates a denial of death and the need to feel
omnipotent, something that Western societies have cultivated for years. Considering
this, such propaganda should have not come as a surprise.

The growing fundamentalistic trend
that is characterizing many faith communities has become part of the
ant-vaccine propaganda because, in essence, these communities express the dynamics
I have described; the of the unhealthy psychological and social make-up of
one’s person. Although those that adhere to such communities profess total faith
in a God that will protect them from all dangers, in practice, they breathe
mistrust both in life and Man; they cultivate doubt and shame in the fear of
condemnation and the fear of ostracization from the group that will protect
them for all evil.

After the pandemic ends, we, as
faith communities, will have to deal seriously with the fundamentalist trends
that undermine health on all levels of human existence, cause division on all
levels of society and distort the possibilities of establishing a healthy faith
in God and a healthy relationship with our fellow humans being. Even more, we
will have to deal with the psychological and social dynamics that constitute these
dangerous trends. This will be our greatest challenge.  
 

Fr. Stavros Kofinas,

Coordinator,

Network of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate

for Pastoral Health
Care

May 7, 2021

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