You will recognize them from the fruits

This article was published in a slightly revised version on La Verità on Friday 8 October 2021.

From next 15 October it will become mandatory to undergo invasive health treatment, a throat swab or injection repeated over time, in order to be able to carry out a job in our country. Now it is almost no longer effective to observe that it is a measure without comparisons in our history, in the world, in the history of the world. In fact, a year and a half of continuous derogations from customs and laws were enough to make the exception a habit and the inconceivable a norm. If for many the desirability of the stated end, of curbing the spread of a disease, can motivate any means, others have instead contested the usefulness and lawfulness of the decision and, once again, citizens have divided themselves in a conflict where the some go on the attack with all the arsenal offered by the potentates of politics and information, the others defend themselves desperately, as they can.

In the dust of this asymmetrical war it is difficult to orient oneself, impossible to dwell on the analysis when fear, interest and anger cry out their reasons and, moreover, the technical tenor of the dispute minimizes the margin of informed judgment. Having compromised the possibility of knowing, then a criterion for restoring possible knowledge is needed, a hierarchically superior and therefore epistemic criterion. If the water is cloudy, you need to draw from the source. An authoritative and ancient definition of this criterion is found in the Gospel of Matthew, when the Master explains to the disciples how to unmask the "false prophets":

You will recognize them by their fruits. Do we gather grapes from thorns, or figs from brambles? Thus every good tree produces good fruit and every bad tree produces bad fruit; a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. You will therefore be able to recognize them by their fruits (Mt 7: 15-20).

On this truth rests every other truth. We are not given to know things in their essence, but only to recognize them by going backwards from their phenomena. We define nouns by their predicates: chemical compounds by how they react, objects by how they appear to us, thought by what is said and done, etc. We thus create models and taxonomies of the unknowable "black box" (Watzlawick, Pragmatics of human communication ) in which the "real" reality is hidden, and therefore also the sciences, whose laws are true if the fruits of observation match up with the 'tree of hypotheses "and not with texts and naked authorities, because our discourses have to be around the sensible world, not on a paper world" (Galileo, Dialogue above the two greatest systems ). The Gospel sermon extends the principle also to the moral domain so that it is valid for judging the intentions of men: since "you alone [God] know the heart of all the children of men" (I Kings 8:39), it is up to mortals to guess the heart tree considering the fruits of actions. Those who want good will not do evil, from those who do evil no good will come.

The story of the green passport and its underlying intent, to "speed up vaccinations and get more done" ( so Paolo Mieli , among many others), lends itself very well to the evangelical test because its benefit declines in the future time of the promise , precisely of a "prophecy" not yet fulfilled but whose fruits hang ripe already from the branch. From the latter we must today recognize the tree, if it is good or if it is "cut and thrown into the fire". Let's try to examine it here, branch by branch.

First branch: health protection . For the World Health Organization, health is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not simply the absence of disease" ( WHO Constitution , 1946). Discrimination aimed at limiting the enjoyment of certain constitutionally ordered rights, or a broad-based smear campaign where those who make a certain choice publicly become a " rat ", a " madman " or a " criminal " are obviously detrimental to "social well-being" , and therefore of health. The anguish of those who have lost or will lose their jobs, stigma, shame, resentment, marginalization, conflict are obviously damaging to "mental well-being", and therefore to health. The lack of income and the crisis in some economic sectors are obviously detrimental to "physical well-being" if not precisely to subsistence, and therefore to health. The suspension of thousands of doctors and other health workers undermines precisely the "absence of disease", and therefore health even in its most elementary meaning. So no, even excluding the most controversial, possible and specific damages of the prescribed treatments, what is already so seriously harmful to health cannot also protect it.

Second branch: it's worth it . In the Italian epidemiological bulletins we read that since the vaccination coverage exceeded significant thresholds, the deaths attributed to the disease have not decreased but rather increased compared to the same period of the previous "pandemic" year, although characterized by fewer restrictions and the absence of vaccinations . The same link has been observed in the count of infections on a global scale (see the latest study by Subramanian and Kuman , European Journal of Epidemiology ). Without drawing any other conclusions, forecasts or interpretations, we observe in Galilean terms that the strength of the promised fruits "in the world of paper" is very far from that of the fruits observed in the "sensible world".

Third branch : freedom . That the measures in question serve to restore the freedoms lost in recent months is factually false in an absolute sense, because on the contrary they introduce limits to the enjoyment of social and civil rights. But it is also so in a relative sense, because the new limits do not exclude or replace the previous ones. In this twist that so much seems to paraphrase a famous Orwellian motto, the usual discronic fallacy of the tree of prophecy occurs ( we will be freer) which produces opposite fruits ( we are less free).

Fourth branch: an "act of love" . This is how Pope Francis defined the new vaccination, charging it with an aura that is also spiritual. The general secretary of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, a stronghold of the traditionalist Catholic wing, re-launched the idea in a more convoluted way, arguing that yes, "the current conditions can be considered abusive, as well as the pressure that is exerted to impose vaccination" , but precisely by virtue of these conditions "it may happen that the obligation to fulfill a duty of charity pushes us to accept being vaccinated". It is funny to observe that among the many fruits borne by the tree of these loving precepts, the most evident are those of hatred. Of a ferocious hatred as can be that which prepares the purges and civil wars, which makes people desire the annihilation of the adversary in public.

After all, how much love can there be in a device consciously conceived as a harassment and blackmail? And if the prospect of losing their jobs and pay especially scares those who can't do without it, how loving is it to rage on those most in need? In the catechism of the Catholic Church there is no mention of injections, on the other hand the sin of oppressing the poor is among the four who cry out for revenge in the sight of God. In a famous commentary of 1963, Father Carlo Dragone described it with a precision that today seems prophetic :

Whoever abuses his physical or moral strength, his authority and his social position to oppress the defenseless, to impose his will and extort what he wants, gravely sins against the commandment of love of neighbor, makes life unbearable, already it lasts for itself, especially for the poor. How many politicians and how many rich landowners are guilty of this sin, saying and making believe that they procure the good of the people, that they protect the interests of the humble classes and of the workers, speculating on their misery and living by their blood!


There is nothing irrational about doubting the goodness of a thing that hurts on so many levels. Nothing illogical in the words of the Venetian councilor who considered getting vaccinated "but the aggression and coercion you adopt are so abnormal that I have decided that I will not vaccinate for anything in the world". Or of the South Tyrolean teacher who answered the television microphones: "if they force me and say ah, I will cause you economic death if you do not get vaccinated, then it is a clue that the thesis is wrong". There is nothing unreasonable in being wary of an offer that cannot be refused: it is only the application of a natural and even divine criterion. The contrary idea is rather absurd, that it is shrewd to reject appearances always and in any case and that imagination counts more than experience, with the result of making everything equally plausible, even that grapes grow from thorns and figs on brambles.

Sad is the fate of a civilization that no longer believes in its eyes and ears, the "essential and definitive injunction" of the dystopian and violent government envisioned by George Orwell. Who trades his own cognitive autonomy for the hairy promise of elevating the simple over the simple by cramming their mouths with counterintuitive truths, long-term strategies, arcane backstories, scientific latinorums , false correlations, logical and ideological tangles. An unsolvable equation admits all solutions and for a people who believe in everything, everything is legitimate. Here we are at the point of this and any other script. Putting the fruits together with the tree seemed therefore obvious, it seemed that Our Lord would not have to bother to tell us. Instead it is the only useful, urgent, possible revolution.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Il Pedante at the URL on Tue, 12 Oct 2021 01:46:12 PDT.