Saturday, January 20, 2007

Comrade Don Camillo

It was a gray autumn morning. Women in men's coveralls were washing and sweeping the streets, running the trolley cars, tarring a paved square and doing construction work on a new building. In front of a Gastronom a long line of women, in simple but more feminine clothes, was patiently waiting. Don Camillo leaned toward Peppone and whispered in his ear:
"These women not only have men's rights; they have women's rights as well!"

On the Poor

Recently, there have been a large number of stories concerning the neglect of children. The public has responded by voicing resentment and horror - first horror, and then (more strongly it seems to me) resentment at the fact that the parents who neglect their children are using our tax-dollars to support themselves and thus we thus, unwillingly, facilitate continued neglect. *1

The solution to all these problems? Sterilize the poor women, who are probably also *stupid* poor women (this is not my correlation), so that they can't have children and fob our money off of us. These sentiments are echoed in at least one news source (albiet, in a rather veiled manner): "There's just some kind of a lack of awareness of the size of your family versus your income, your ability to live," Hannan said.*2

Chesterton addressed something along these lines in What's Wrong with the World - this isn't directly pertinent, as cases of neglect are, many times, cases of willful neglect (though there may be a variety of circumstances - the usurious landlord - which may absolve one from cases of alleged neglect), but what Chesterton said may be broadly applied.

The solution is not to sterilize the poor women - but to spread God's love and not to kill the offspring or to stem the number of children born. You don't attack the symptom, you attack the disease.

I'm rather afraid I got into a heated debate with one of the organizers of a local Catholic young-adult's group. He proposed that better sexual education would lead to less children born to the poor people who were ignorant and whose offspring were prone to be wild and dangerous. I countered that this was not the proper solution - sexual education does not magically solve problems but exacerbates them by encouraging promiscuity and less respect for the dignity of the other (though I did not phrase it so eloquently during the actual speech). He asked me what my solution was. I replied that we should do good, help others, here and now in the ways we could, love them, show them God's love - and voting, of course, in line with what the Church teaches. The man asked me what good that would do when the problems of this world were spread over such a great area. What good could one person do?

Well, what's the point if doing and being good don't DO anything? What good couldn't it do? The saints moved mountains and while I may be no saint, I can follow their example. Referring to Chesterton again - God told St. Francis to build His Church. An by gum, St. Francis built it with his own hands, "stone by stone." He did what he could, because God willed that he should do so, and because Francis willed that it should be so. If God wills that good may come, and man cooperates, then good cannot but come and the world cannot but be affected if only a little in our terms.

Despite trying to get on the mailing list, twice, for this young-adult group, I um. Didn't get on it. Somehow.


(I don't directly link, because I don't want this to be tracked back and have a flame-war established with people from the first link.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rrright --- or no?

Ahhhhh. School has started - and already I have a paper/writing assignment/thing due on Monday for a class that started today. Where is the sense in that? True, this is a class dedicated to the improvement of students' philosophical writing, but the mind must first assimilate and sort the material before spewing it out in such wise as to satisfy the academic standards at Berkeley!

My sister's wedding went off without a hitch - that is to say she was married to John without problems that leaped into the foreground and gnashed their teeth in a baleful manner at the then-hopeful bride and groom. Hurrah hurrah! A wedding! The wrestling masks were a great success - at least three young homeschooled men (ages 13-17) retired to a corner of the room and menaced each other in their best manner(s?), jumping up and down and gesticulating wildly while, unbeknowest to them, homeschooling mothers singled them out and brought them to the notice of the general public (in a nice way). The young girls (of ages 2-7), meanwhile, collected the masks in a pile and sat around them playing games - patty cake, I think. What I mean to say is: the masks were appreciated and will probably be better remembered by the children than the actual marriage. John and Aletheia 4e-ver!

For the curious - the actual wedding was gorgeous. The choir was beautiful, the ceremony simple and dignified. The food at the reception - which Erik and another friend spent more than three days in preparing - turned out to be so scrumptious.

Hume was an ass. Carry on.

One laudable aspect of the Philosophy department is that the professors and graduate students can be quite honest (and are - anyone can be honest, not everyone is) - in my ethics class, the professor advanced the notion that what is right is roughly equivalent to what results in the greatest happiness for all individuals concerned. Then he brought up a particular case - suppose there is a hospital, and in one ward of this hospital there is a patient who is recovering and will be completely well by the end of the week. In the other ward, there are five patients who need organ transplants - or else they die. So the person who holds the notion that the greatest overall happiness should obtain says to himself: "I'll just hack up this one patient and distribute her organs - that will result in MORE happiness than if that one patient lived. That is what is RIGHT."

At this point, the professor glanced at the class for reactions. I was giggling along with another person or two, the rest of the class sat in fascination. It all sounded so nice - we want the most people who can be happy to be happy! But this poor woman who gets hacked up for the sake of the other five!

Of course, this is all loosely phrased, but the gist of it was - there are basic rights of human beings which cannot be violated. To do so would be wrong even if it benefited a great number of people.

Be excellent to each other.