Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Sledgehammer or Scalpel of History?

An excellent, but, alas, futile, article appeared in the National Post yesterday. It is easy to read, but here's my synopsis: history is being used by lefties to force a political direction. I hope this is not surprising to anyone, but I know it is.

Clinton and Obama always talk about being on the "right side" of history. That's a Christian idea. I wouldn't even say Judaeo-Christian. But it didn't mean to Christians what the left means by it. Christians looked forward to the millennium, a new heaven and earth. Lefties think we can have a perfect culture here. The French, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions were about this. When you think about these examples it's easy to see how good intentions cannot be multiplied indefinitely. Give a man a fish... teach a man to fish... compel a whole society to fish or be liquidated. On the other hand, Christians do not think that St. Martin and St. Francis sharing their clothes with the poor brings about the better world of Christian hope. They do it because it is a loving thing to do. They know that down the road there are brigands who will likely take the gift they gave from that poor person - final sum: zero.

But back to history. It is a cruel mistress if we wish to marry her. We want to see what we want to see. The left wants to see a positive, unassailable trajectory. The woman we want to see, is not necessarily the woman who is. Ask any divorced man if that is true.

The left sees on a continuum, the ending of slavery, the enfranchisement of women, the liberation of homosexuals, of transsexuals, of pedophiles, whatever...

Sure we can poo-poo them. But what about us?

One needs not become a relativist to counter the left. Hardly! The right is far more philosophically consistent.

But... how much do we Catholics buy into the left's story?

I think most of us agree that slavery is wrong. The papacy has always led the thrust against it. Read here. But we can't even view this myopically. When we think about slavery we tend to contrast it with a picture of our modern Western lifestyle.

we think of this:

Image result for slavery

This no doubt shocks us when we compare it with the kind of life black people can enjoy today:

Image result for black man in white suit


But that doesn't get to the historical truth about slavery. If you want to compare your typical black slave a few centuries ago, why not think about your typical Russian:

Image result for russian peasant 18th


and here's a scene of your average Austrian at the time:

Image result for peasant misery


Are they more like the slave above or the dude with the white suit and nice watch? I am reminded in this context of the doofus football-playing millionaire raised by self-less white parents not standing for the American national anthem because racism, Colin Kaepernick.

But I want to jab a little more harshly on a Catholic soft spot. (There's nothing more I can add on the subject of racism that hasn't been said already.)

Once again, I am talking women. The sacred cows of the Catholic intelligentsia.

Just like all people can agree that slavery was bad and the world is a better one that has things like the Emancipation Proclamation, all people tend to agree that it is a better world that has women suffrage.

I will offer a big, fat OH REALLY! here.

Not only am I going to say that talking about women before and after the 19th Amendment tends to have the flavour of comparing the blacks in the two first pictures above, rather than comparing it to the third and fourth, I want to say that its more like comparing apples and oranges.

Even conservative commentators err here. Is the world better for women now or, say, one hundred years ago. Most people say better now. I disagree whole-heartedly. Women are not happier now. I don't know if anyone is. But women have borne the brunt of the ill-effects of the sexual and industrial revolutions. Picture a world where families take care of each other verses one that relies on faceless government programs. Picture a world where a woman, especially young women are expected to be self-reliant. Have women ever been self-reliant? If they have not, how can we assume that they are biologically fit for that new niche? Why do feminists talk about a rape culture? Not because there is one but because they are afraid - afraid of the world that has been created 'for' them.

Now, I have no statistics to go by here - obviously: no one asks girls in 1850 how happy they are on a scale of 1 to 10 so that we can compare it to girls today... I'm not trying to prove anything. I just want to readers to consider questioning the dominant narrative.

A few points of thought:

were the girls on the prairie (think Little House on the) miserable without a vote?

was St. Bernadette miserable having to gather wood and water for her family?

was St. Theresa of Avila miserable that she couldn't attend the University of Paris with St. Ignatius?

was your great grandmother?

Would your great grandmother have envied women living on her own, engaging in 'consequence free' sex, rather than living as she did, with the assurance that her husband would also be there for her, since those who fled their familial responsibilities were heavily socially ostracized, that her sons and daughters would also be there helping on the farm, helping her into her old age? Would she have wanted to trade in these securities for a vote?

Let me reference one of my favorite YouTubers, Karen Straughan, quoting anti-suffragettes in 1909, "It is our fathers, brother and sons who  represent us at the ballot box... love us..." (watch this clip, at about 6.50). The fascinating passage evokes perfectly the way these women viewed their lives, not in antagonism with men, as feminists view it today, but in symbiosis. I mentioned this to a girl friend of mine about a year ago, a girl who - understandably - assumed women's suffrage was an unalloyed good. She was really struck by my perspective.

Now, feminism has been a self-fulfilling prophecy. It has created the antagonism is was supposing to describe. (In this light, the BLM movement is creating the antagonism it supposes to describe.)

Men and women work against each other in every facet of life now: women accuse men of sexism when they don't get their way, while mean treat them (understandably) with suspicion. This was not life on the farm, the life of Sts. Bernadette and Theresa of Avila.

It is a very different world now. Do I think we can turn back the clock to a better world by annulling the 19th Amendment? Nope, absolutely not. The world we have now is a world of abortion and contraception, a world where men do not have to care for women necessarily. Women are left with a sad thing in exchange, a vote.

I have said all of this simply to draw to your attention your commitment to a narrative created by people who do no want the world to be like what Christians want it to be. Should you really trust the story they have told you?

Are antibiotics unalloyed goods? Are seat belts? Are electric cars, video games, cellphones and the printing press?

The fact is, the world is far more complicated a thing than the preoccupation with being on the 'right side of history' makes itself out to be. Black-and-white thinking is for simpletons, and it can be very dangerous. Political manipulators want us to think simplistically. There is racism or there is fiscal responsibility. There is freedom for women or family.

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