Owning Up to a Failed Prophecy

A level of critical thinking is needed to ensure Namibians do not fall prey to some preachers’ declarations especially if the messages are tailored to bring doom upon individuals or the nation, a clinical psychologist aised. A prominent cleric though has aportioned blame to the media for publishing messages without scrutinising their content, even when such messages sow seeds of confusion among the public.

“The media should take the lead on what to print and what not to print. It’s they (media) who printed that information. Some of us are doing things that are proper but we not receiving support,” said retired church leader Rev. Ngeno Nakamhela, stressing that the media should refrain from sensational reporting. Nakamhela said he would not blame recipients of such messages as much as those who deliver the message.

“It is sad that people can be so gullible to believe in such things,” clinical psychologist Dr Shaun Whittaker said in response to a question by New Era on why some people are quick to believe so-called prophecies and declarations by some preachers even if they may be harmful to individuals or society.

Whittaker said illiteracy and a lack of deep critical thinking are the reasons why many people easily fall prey to fly-by-night men and women of the cloth. His comment was in response to a recent prophecy by “prophetess” Elizabeth Sacharias that the nation would be struck by an earthquake of high magnitude that would destroy infrastructure and leave many people dead.

“We do not have a reading culture to develop people’s critical thinking skills and for people to make up their own minds and thus they are easily misled,” he said. Whittaker also believes that the history of colonialism made a “deliberate attempt to restrict people’s level of confidence”.

Secretary General of the Namibia Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Father Thomas Manninezhath, said: “We have to discern what is wrong and what is not.” He stressed that it is important for people to analyse and apply reason when messages are presented to them. However, he noted that “not everything can be explained by reason”. “Reason and faith go hand in hand. If what is prophesied does not go with the faith it must be investigated.”

Nakamhela said the media plays a critical role in regulating what the public consumes and if preachers present the media with doomsday messages such as that of the prophesied earthquake they should discern whether it is in the public interest to report such message.

Similarly, Whittaker said the media has a role to play in terms of educating people. “The public discourse is dominated by a low level of consciousness and far-fetched explanations,” said Whittaker who maintained that people should rather debate “constructive matters”.

Source : New Era