Catholics have been relishing in the truth for a long time. Millennia actually. I was raised in a very typical American way, complete with Beavis and Butthead and education for the sake of big mortgages – not exactly experiences in relishing truth. Not until I became a Catholic in my young adult years did I really learned to think. Catholicism has taught me many beautiful lessons, but one of the greatest is to receive reality as it is – as created by God – and to discern in it truth, beauty, and goodness.
But, there is also the skill taught by the Church to discern lies, ugliness, and evil. In some cases, however, while I believe there is evil involved, I really just want to look around and yell, because the evils being affirmed seem more in line with sheer idiocy or weird, willful blindness. But, this is the outcome of rigid ideology – denial of the obvious truth if it contradicts the dogma. “Are you even listening to your own contradictions?!” I did actually yell at the radio this week.
The issue was Zika. No wait. First the issue was abortion. I was listening to NPR and they had a very learned lady with an affected intellectual accent that was just oozing pity and disdain for the dribbling idiot lawmakers who had recently decided that the “doctors” performing abortions, a medical procedure, should have the same standards that actual medical doctors have – you know, the kind of doctors that don’t kill people inside of other people. These crazy Texans wanted to make sure that woman were not killed by the people killing people inside of people. This “leading intellectual”, along with other things, could not believe that in Texas – get this! – they actually think that women should be protected from such monsters like Kermit Gosnell who, along with the legal murder of abortion, also illegally killed babies that had survived the abortions along with some moms too. I know it is hard to follow who is allowed to be killed legally and who is not, but that’s the conundrum of our unjust laws.
Part of the Texas efforts explicitly stated that women should be “protected” from people that accidentally kill people (which is illegal) while killing other people in the womb (which is legal). This “intellectual” on the radio just could not possibly believe, and the host of the show nodded sagely (that’s right, I heard the host nodding through the radio), and they even chuckled, that people out there still believe that women because they are women should get unequal treatment in the form of “protection”.
Of course men and women are not equal! The reason? Because women can have children, carry them in their womb, bring them outside into the world, and then nourish them at their body. And beyond those mostly biological facts, women provide tenderness and nurturing that I promise you men cannot.
I am not confusing “equality” with dignity. That’s foolish. And what is worse is that the proponents of such foolishness would baulk if I were to say, for example, that I think it is very right that the Captain of the Costa Concordia, the wrecked luxury ship, to be sentenced for prison for abandoning his ship when it was sinking. Why is it right? Mostly because there were women and children on board, and women and children are unequal to men. They should be protected.
The confusion arises because by “equality” in the secular, morally relative world means sameness. Contemporary liberalism is a factory, pumping out the exact same reality in each person, without distinction, classification, or variety – it’s a flattening out of people that denies obvious reality. For example, an employer is supposed to completely disregard the clear and natural risk of hiring a young woman who is recently married and says in the interview she wants kids soon. It’s a risk because the investment of resources into that worker could literally be wasted if she requests significant leave or quits when she has a baby. They must deny the obvious and pretend that – all things being equal – she is a complete equal (i.e. the “same”) as the next interviewee who is male, unmarried, and qualified. With such “equality”, you must pretend that the impediment of children is not an impediment. Don’t get offended if you like kids. I like them too. I got a whole bunch of those little things. But the definition of an impediment is “a hindrance or obstruction in doing something”. I happen to know that both pregnancy and children are impediments to doing many things. This very day I left a meeting at work early in order to help my pregnant wife who was sick with the younger children. Most real love is a hindrance or obstruction – it hinders selfishness, unbridled ambition, and monotony. God bless hindrances!
“Women and children” are not grouped together because women are like children that need coddling and babysitting, but because they carry a character of promise and hope that men do not. Sane men are ok with that. Sane women feel a dignity in that. Sane men know in their bones that the very promise in those women and children is a treasure, a treasure worth fighting and even dying for. Women and children have an unequal (greater) right to protection from those that can protect them. Women and children are of a greater worth in the sense of what is worth protecting.
Only ideological lunatics would try to convince me that if an attacker came to my home with my pregnant wife and my young children that we should all try to escape in equal measure. I do not have an equal right to be protected or to escape. I would be cowardly and crazy to not defend the promise within my wife’s womb and my children’s future. It is also helpful that my strength is unequal to theirs as well – I am better suited to defend them.
But this is not why I yelled at the radio. I’m pretty accustomed to those sorts of interviews touting how somehow the pro-life movement is a giant conspiracy from men to suppress women. (The pro-abortion movement does not allow my pro-life wife the equality of being counted as a “real” woman who defends the murder of the unborn. To the pro-abortionists, only pro-life men count in the debate.)
I yelled because the next story after the abortion described how different countries are trying to find ways to protect pregnant women from the threat of the Zika virus. There was one story on women not needing any protection. The next about how they need protection. Both of them referring to the unavoidable link between the female body and the next generation. The first story denied that childbearing made women unequally dignified. The second story proved as much. There’s nothing like being shaken out of ideological group-thinking by the onset of real life threats.
I am grateful that Catholicism helps us think clearly and accept reality as it is. The truth truly does set us free. I think living in that truth and proclaiming it lovingly and joyfully to the world is more urgent than ever, literally. Yelling at the world’s foolishness wont help, but don’t judge me too harshly. I was alone in the car when I yelled at them.
Now, as I’ve typed this I have grown weary and need to go to bed. I can’t sleep in my bed with my wife however – not because she is mad at me because I don’t think we are equal, but because our bed currently has a toddler in need of much love in it, and late in pregnancy my wife gets very uncomfortable and needs space to adjust. But it is not a point of conflict. I’m happy to take the unequal comfort of the couch tonight.