THE SACRIFICES OF MEN AND WOMEN TOWARDS HUMANITY: EACH IN THEIR OWN MEASURE AS WE PONDER THE SUPREME SACRIFICE OF OUR LORD THIS GOOD FRIDAY.
I was having another one of my Zen moments this morning as I washed the dishes by the sink at the kitchen window looking out onto the neighbour’s green grassy yard. I was having an imaginary telephone conversation in my head with a female friend of mine back in Québec City where I just moved from last September. She and I keep in touch and have remained close since my departure to Ontario and we often get into philosophical discussions of sorts.
I was going on in my head about how men and women make different contributions and sacrifices to humanity. I was saying this because I find that amongst a certain constituency of the female population, I’ve found increasingly that there’s been a move on towards a sort of ‘hagiographicalization’ of women, or what I call the ‘deification’ or ‘superwoman’ phenomenon in postmodern society.
This takes a variety of forms. There’s definitely a concerted and sustained move in American and Canadian as well as overall Western media and pop-culture towards mysandry and the rampant deconstruction of traditional positive male stereotypes such as the ‘hero’ the ‘white knight’ , the ‘knight in shining armour’ and so on. Conversely, women are increasingly being portrayed in Hollywood films, TV shows, books and so on as assertive, in command of the situation, intelligent, bright, brainy, won’t take no for an answer, plucky, doggedly perseverant, gutsy, courageous and so on.
Men are increasingly being portrayed as flawed, weak, pathologically violent and perverted, lazy, disorganized, hurting, sophomoric, immature, unsure of themselves, and so on. It’s all part of the postmodern women’s agenda to put women in positions of power and authority by using the media as a vehicle for the portrayal of ‘positive’ women’s role models for young, postmodern women to emulate. However, is this agenda really being of service to humanity by empowering one sex by deconstructing and dragging down the other?
Are we not supposed to be each other’s help mate and partner in love and family like the Bible says? I feel that making men and women, boys and girls into each other’s rivals and ultimately enemies in the temporal realm in the pursuit of money, power, property prestige and personalities can only contribute to the downfall of western civilization, not improve it. This is so because if males and females are conditioned from birth to see each other as a threat to each other’s socio-economic and professional aspirations for fulfillment and gratification, how can men and women hope to meet and court each other in a spirit of faith, hope and love as well as mutual respect and admiration, seeing that they are constantly watching their own backs for fear that someone of the opposite sex, potentially their mate, or someone who could potentially be a potential mate, might stab them in the back and ‘steal’ their temporal privileges in the working world and thereby ‘usurp’ their upward career aspirations for ‘success?’
So getting back to my imaginary conversation in my head with my female friend in Québec, I told her that, despite the current messaging strategy to the contrary, which often attempts to portray women as ‘inherently superior’ to men or ‘inherently more virtuous or courageous’ in an often ‘revisionist’ or ‘back-dated’ way (just have a gander at a lot of the not-so-subtle male-bashing jokes and other internet traffic on the web and Face book being circulated by mostly women), I told her that, in my opinion, men and women both have had and continue to have a tendency to make their own unique contributions and sacrifices in society which are sometime recognized and sometimes not.
Men are still the most likely candidates to go fight and kill or be killed in war, as well as boys (just look at the number of child soldiers in Africa, mostly boys). Men are still the most often employed on the dirtiest and most dangerous physically-demanding jobs in the world such as mining, working on oil rigs, heavy construction, window washing, electrician, plumber, carpenter, lathe operator, working in chemical plants, oil refineries, steel mills and so on. This, as well as working with dangerous and bulky agricultural machinery and equipment on farms and food processing plants and so on. There’s even a Face book photo gallery showing men in dangerous occupations which goes a long way in demystifying why women live longer than men. It has nothing necessarily to do with an inherently stronger wellspring of genetic virtue or chutzpah, but that men are simply exposed to so many more hazardous situations than women are in the course of their existence.
In the case of women, I’m not trying to diminish the great sacrifices that women make around the world, but more likely trying to show how we as humans are equally matched in our ability and tendency towards making sacrifices for the sake of humanity. Women are still the ones who bear our children and who do most of the child-rearing, often working in the fields with one child on their backs and pregnant with another. Women haul water and gather firewood and carry goods and produce to market throughout the developing world, often on foot or in dangerous vehicles along with men, boys and girls. Women and girls are the most likely to be enslaved in the sex trade as prostitutes which is still a big problem and seems to be growing. Conjugal violence towards women and children and to a lesser extent towards men also seems to be still a serious problem as men and women still seem to have structural difficulties of a cultural, religious and socio-economic nature in communicating their concerns and imperatives to each other, without raising their voices or their hands or fists in anger with each other as passions and base glandular-hormonal instincts get stirred up by various psycho-social, psycho-sexual, socio-emotional, socio-economic and spiritual factors which seem to spur men and women into doing very ungodly things towards each other.
All this to say that there continues to be no shortage of opportunities for men and women to make sacrifices for humanity, both for good and for ill as well as for themselves and for each other. Never thought that washing the dishes at 6:00 a.m. on a Good Friday would spur me to such meditations. Maybe the underlying leitmotif of all this should be the supreme sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Today we celebrate and commemorate the sacrifice our Lord made for all humanity, when he gave his life for us upon the cross on Calvary for the forgiveness of all sins that ever were, are now and ever shall be.
As our Lenten journey nears its fruition in our triumphant hymns of praise on Easter morning, let us remind ourselves of this supreme sacrifice and let us not lose sight of our duty as Christians and as Catholics to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’
Have a Happy Easter everybody. God bless.