A wise, sane, holy man –G.K. Chesterton- once said that “the modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”
Do we not see evidence of this at nearly every turn, today? The virtues have gone mad. To me, there is no better, more immediate example of this than the sincere but untethered Emma Watson in her role as celebrity spokeswoman and “goodwill ambassador” for the United Nations and its new campaign for male-feminism.
I call it a “new” initiative, but – in truth – it’s an old trope. It’s been dressed in updated clothes, been given a fresh paint job, a bright young face with just a touch of natural make-up. Contemporary, clever euphemisms and hashtags might persuade the modern ear, momentarily. Old evils die hard. But I’m calling them out.
Often we come to better understand what a thing is by understanding first what it is not.
I would like to try to outline a certain order of truth by comparing similar-but-different things. The two videos linked here point us to discussion – at least the beginning of a consideration – of what human rights are, and what they are not. What compassion is, and what it is not. What love is, and what it is not.
Emma Watson addresses the United Nations, 2014
Mother Teresa’s Address at the National Prayer Breakfast, 1994
Both speeches are public and high profile. They are both political in nature. Each is presented by an internationally famous and recognizable woman. Each woman speaks out of her sincere concern for Justice and The Good.
So far, so similar. Right?
But – despite all these apparent similarities – the two speeches are in fact quite different. We must be keen in discerning their messages and motives. The videos are short, so rather than summarize either one, I will simply ask the questions: What is a right? Where does a “right” come from? And who makes it so?
We cannot reasonably appeal to notions of Human Rights on the level of so-called “gender” Equality when the first inalienable right, the right to not be killed in the womb, is not protected above and before all other potential “rights.”
In the words of Saint Mother Teresa:
If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?
There it is. What more can we say? “My body”?
No. The –it’s-my-body- rhetoric is a lie that has been told to Emma Watson, to her own mother’s generation, and for decades, to too many women and to men. Today, Emma – in her own way, a victim of the my body/feminist rhetoric – has become an unwitting mouthpiece for the most harmful lie of the post-modern zeitgeist.
Mother Teresa rightly speaks of the ravages of war (we all detest war, which is human tragedy on a mass scale). She identifies war as the macro-outcome of the very personal tragedy of abortion. When we permit the murder of the child in the womb – the sanctuary of sanctuaries that is the mother’s womb – how can we pretend to be concerned for matters of justice like “equal pay for equal work,” or equal access to education? These issues that are so troubling to Ms. Watson can matter only to those who are allowed to be born in the first place.
Couched in the vocabulary of compassion, disguised under the guileless, teary-eyed face of a former child actress who has captured imaginations and won the trust of a generation, the worst lie – a tired, old lie – is worming its way into new endeavors of the United Nations under the false banner of “compassion,” under the language of rights. Ms. Watson makes her emotional appeal to men and to their protective instincts. If men respond at all, it is meekly and with gratitude for having been invited back into a conversation still guarded jealously by women, for women.
Yes, Emma, it is time to put away the language of competing interest groups and sex-based factions of opposition.
But here I check my own strong language, because I do not think Emma Watson is pretending. I believe she has taken on, in good faith and with a compassionate heart, these messages of equality and feminism (one that claims not to hate men). But her compassion is cut off from Truth; cut off from the memory of the source of life.
So, no Emma, it is not time to revive the failed Feminist experiment. I echo the invitations of Gonzalo Banda and David Ramos to Emma Watson, to encounter Mother Teresa. Meet the beautiful, loving and compassionate Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and her radical definition of equality, the equal right to life of all human beings:
“Anybody who doesn’t want the child – please give it to me. I want the child.”
To Emma and to those for whom she speaks, one further gentle invitation through the little Albanian woman of blessed memory: May you encounter the immeasurably deeper source of Justice, Truth and Love that your tender heart so longs for. It is a Love which desires all good things – including the re-attachment of scattered virtues – healed and put back together for this wounded and broken world.