Thursday, January 22, 2015
The Truth as a Hammer
The basic gist of the comments that accompanied the latest article was "So all you American Moms who's feelings have been hurt by the Pope's words... maybe it's not about you! Maybe he wasn't talking to you at all!" The article itself wasn't bad. The comments though, made me want to crawl back into bed.
Honestly, do we really believe that telling people who have been hurt by these comments that what they really need to do is just get over themselves is an actual solution to the very real pain they're feeling? Come on ladies. You don't have real problems. You have first world problems. Step off the self centered pedestal and shove those feelings to the back of your mind because you have no right to be having them.
Since these discussions have begun I've had someone I've known for years point out that I don't have as many kids as she does and her feelings aren't hurt. I guess that should mean that I shouldn't feel saddened when I see a specific woman being held up as an example of irresponsibility, after years of being told over and over again "the Church doesn't give specific examples."
In another conversation, that I managed to not dive in to, a few people took the opportunity to rant about the ridiculousness of these people who took on this mantle of "victimhood" by having the nerve to be upset. How are these women so over emotional that they couldn't go and read what was actually being said and understand the wonderfulness of those words? was the question asked.
I was tempted to answer, but didn't. I wanted to say: I read the words. I read the "reliable translations of the transcript." And it didn't take the sting away. Praying did.
But still I found myself wondering how many women out there were taking part in these same conversations and feeling the same way. And I guess that's why I'm writing.
I'm not an apologist. I used to think that I might be someday. I used to have a thirst for debating that has seen dwindled and disappeared almost entirely. I still love learning. I love my vocation. But I don't love arguing and debating points like I used to.
And I realized this morning that while I was saddened by the words in the initial interview, that sadness was easy enough to brush aside, given what we've learned in the past years about the way the current Pope uses words (with good humored, well meaning, reckless abandon, was the first description that comes to mind).
I find what has happened in the aftermath, far sadder than those initial words.
The truth, as a hammer, is seldom affective at speaking to hearts. Telling women, who found the interview to be hurtful, that they weren't smart enough to get the intended meaning and quoting Canon Law at them, or telling them that they don't have "real problems" so they should get over it because "it's not about you" isn't going to comfort or draw anyone closer to God. And honestly, I can't imagine the Pope using those same words.
Believe it or not, those of us who were pained by what we read are likely really trying to understand the words. For many of us, we actually did understand them, quite clearly, on an intellectual level.
Yet somehow that didn't make it easier. I was reminded of many posts that I've read by friends struggling with the pain of infertility. It isn't, obviously, the exact same thing. And yet I do find myself wishing it was handled more delicately, as I hope most people would react to someone voicing that sort of pain. You wouldn't tell a woman suffering the pain of infertility that she has no right to feel pain at the praises sung in the Catholic world of large families (and I'm not saying that pain is in any way even comparable... so please don't think that I am!).
Extend, if you can, that same courtesy to those with large families who find themselves attacked on a regular basis for the size of their families, who try to ignore the words from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers, but who find themselves pained by them no less.
And if, after thinking of all these things, you then decide that you need to go out and berate someone you know for having the gall to feel pain at those off the cuff remarks given on that flight, then the only thing left to do is pat yourself on the back for being so advanced in sanctity that you've made it passed all those piddling little emotions like empathy and compassion and you without a doubt will go far as you speed on your way reproving all those sinners who dared give voice to an emotion that you don't agree with.