The closer to reality we bring our beliefs, the better informed we’ll be when it comes time to make important decisions.
Por Ricardo Zambrana (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – “Leave people in peace, let them believe whatever they want to.” That phrase is generally used to keep people from questioning or criticizing others’ beliefs. It is a way of making it clear that if you’re not in agreement with other people’s beliefs, and they don’t involve or affect you, then you should simply close your mouth and leave them in peace.
And that is totally, completely and absolutely certain. Until it does affect you.
Let me clarify. Every person has a right to their own creeds, their political positions and their opinions, but let’s make some comparisons.
If your father reads his horoscope and believes that a Capricorn should buy a lottery ticket ending in 56, well, it’s his money and his life, right?
If your grandmother considers that one look from you at the pot of corn pudding with milk while it’s cooking, will spoil it, well, that’s her issue, even though it’s always delicious, no matter what.
BUT, if your partner thinks that your children shouldn’t be vaccinated because vaccines can supposedly cause autism, you can’t simply say that you’re going to respect their opinion. Your children NEED those vaccines, and science has demonstrated beyond a doubt that vaccines will save your children from many problems later on.
Everything has a limit
To press another button, there’s still no vaccine for Covid-19. Let’s imagine how it would be to have a world full of pandemics: seasonal flu, rubella, tuberculosis, pneumonia infections, type B influenza, among many other diseases, if we weren’t already vaccinated against them. It’s not at all complicated; at the moment of making serious decisions about health, one must trust in the experience of science and medicine.
In order to know whether or not you have diabetes, you don’t give an opinion, you take a blood sugar test. In order to measure your blood pressure, you don’t base yourself on your beliefs, you take your blood pressure reading with a device. In order to know if you need an operation or not, you listen to one or two doctors. You don’t do it based on your opinion or on dogma.
Those are fairly obvious cases. Now, imagine that your next-door neighbor really thinks that the pandemic won’t come to Nicaragua. Perhaps they imagine that the pandemic is just a story to frighten and control us; or maybe they’re sure that Nicaraguans are a privileged people and it won’t affect us. Possibly they believe in the Ortega camp’s discourse that up until now all of the infections have been imported, and there’s no community transmission.
If that’s the case, your neighbor will be happily going to the beach on the summer vacation plan the government has promoted and will run the risk of contagion, together with many other people. That contagion, according to statistics and probability, could later come back to you, either directly through your neighbor himself, or because he touched a glass that was later touched by someone else. Or maybe he sneezed into his hand, and then touched a chair on which someone else later leaned. And so on. So, in that way, your neighbor’s beliefs can affect not only you, but hundreds or thousands of people.
To be clearer about the Butterfly Effect that exists with this, let’s recall that this pandemic began with one person. One. If that person had known that there was a virus in their organism, they would have isolated themselves from everyone. If the people that person infected had stayed home, no one would be talking about Covid-19. Eighty thousand more people in the world would be alive, and hundreds of billions of dollars wouldn’t have been lost due to the paralysis of the world economy. We didn’t have that information before, but we do have it now.
There’s a richness in differences of opinion
The people who have the power to help, to make a difference, be it at a world or a local level, be it your president or your neighbor, can have ideas that sooner or later might affect you. All beliefs seem inoffensive, until they are not any longer. For that reason, we should always encourage constructive criticism of any consideration, any proposal, any political, religious, economic, or social position.
Teach your children to question ideas, to understand that every proposition has different points of view, and that not all of them will lead you to the truth. That sometimes, to arrive at being right, you need to make mistakes and admit that you’ve been wrong. The search for truth is a path full of trial and error. Every significant advance of humanity, every discovery arrives after proving that something people believed in wasn’t completely right.
Your opinion, your belief, though it may seem your very own, though it may be sacred to you, doesn’t guarantee that you’re right. Don’t be afraid to question your neighbor – their opinions, their ideas. Between any two affirmations, there’ll always be one that’s closer to reality than another. But that’s good! In differences lies wealth. Having distinct criteria is more of an opportunity than a problem. Because in all criteria, as opposite as they might be, something useful can be found, something that may contribute to the solution of a problem, to understanding reality better.
Beliefs should reflect knowledge
The moment we’re living (and suffering) through is perfect for recognizing and appreciating the role that science has played in that search for reality. Doesn’t it seem interesting that today, in full pandemic, there’s increased trust in the doctors and in science to diagnose Covid-19 and develop a cure, and yet there are still people who don’t believe in vaccines in general? Or that even though the importance of the scientific method is so evident, there are still people who don’t want to listen to those who’ve spent years warning about climate change?
All of us think differently. Let’s make this a collaboration of ideas, more than an ideological battle. Let our credos be a reflection of our knowledge and not of our opinions. Let our faith be a reflection of our spirituality and not of our prejudices. May our truth be closer to reality, and not a personal matter.
We all live in this world, sharing homes, neighborhoods, cities, countries or regions, and each one holds different beliefs. The closer we bring these to reality, the better informed we’ll be at the hour of making important decisions. And everyone will be free to believe what they want without this affecting anyone else.