October 31, 2005
The Anchoress (who has yet another must read post here. At this rate, we’ll soon be referred to as ‘the other bloggers), pointed us to an article in the NYT, by Maureen Dowd. In a long piece, What’s a Modern Girl to Do? Ms Dowd laments her reality- she is unmarried, unattached and there are few prospects on the horizon. Ms Dowd wants us to believe that she is a victim of another times Feminism. She is right- and she is dead wrong.
Maureen Dowd chose to define herself. She put herself and only herself at the fore of her very being. She chose selfishness and repeats that choice, everyday. Ms Dowd is in now way lacking in self esteem.
How on earth can anyone, focus on themselves so completely, and be successful in marriage? As we have said,
Real self esteem is derived from ‘selfless esteem.’ No matter what great strides we have made in technology and interdependent economies and societies, we must make a difference in the lives of others if we are to make a difference and find meaning in our own lives. Information and technology will not make our world a better place. They can contribute to the effort, but no more.
You can fight the battle against the wrongs of the world, only if you have found inner peace- that ‘selfless esteem.’
Further, we noted that who you are is how you perceive yourself:
In fact, you do matter. Not because of your wealth or looks, or productivity or great ideas. You matter because you were born- and because of the potential contributions you might make in that symphony of life. In fact, there are those notes that only you can play. You are irreplaceable. Just ask those people who love you and care for you. It is incumbent upon you to contribute to their lives and their well being. That in fact, is the greatest of destinies- to transform and make better, those around you. If you can do that, you will have changed lives, forever.
In other words, Ms Dowd, it isn’t all about you. You aren’t your job at the Times and you aren’t your column. The legions of brilliant and dead columnists aren’t remembered by anyone but their families- and even then, they aren’t remembered for their columns. That truth will not elude Ms Dowd, now matter how brilliant or chic she might see herself.
Ms Dowd writes,
So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax? Do women get less desirable as they get more successful?
No, Ms Dowd, it isn’t success that makes women less desirable. It is the deceit that often accompanies that success that makes women less desirable. A successful woman isn’t less likely to find a mate or have a successful marriage- unless she equates success in business with success in marriage or relationships. The biggest deceit is the self deceit- a truth that isn’t even on Ms Dowd’s radar.
Ms Dowd looks to justify her victim status:
Or, as Craig Bierko, a musical comedy star and actor who played one of Carrie’s boyfriends on “Sex and the City,” told me, “Deep down, beneath the bluster and machismo, men are simply afraid to say that what they’re truly looking for in a woman is an intelligent, confident and dependable partner in life whom they can devote themselves to unconditionally until she’s 40.”
What claptrap- and in those few words, Ms Dowd displays her complete and utter ignorance of men and marriage. There are legions of men, over 40, that are looking to partner not with a twentysomething, but rather another like minded 40 something.
Men seriously looking at marriage are not looking for a trophy- they are looking for a wife, someone who understands the meaning of the word ‘home,’ in every sense of the word. There are a lot of men that have tired of the perfectly coiffed, weekly manicured and exercise compulsive woman. Men want women that put their marriage, not their ‘self esteem’ and ‘identity’ as a priority. Maureen Dowd clearly doesn’t understand that, if she has ascertained that the men she dates are really looking for a young chickee-poo. She’s trying to land the guy whose biggest asset is anything but what really counts. Most of all, Ms Dowd is looking for the guy that will worship Maureen Dowd, because she is the Maureen Deed.
MoDo doesn’t have the right mojo to land the right guy, because she doesn’t understand men or marriage.
Men want to worship their wives- not because they are successful or powerful, but because they are their wives. ‘In all the world, you have chosen me!’ Is it really any different for women? Marriage is about the sharing, not the sharp retort, to be applauded. Marriage is about a partnership, not the parties. Marriage is about a lot of things, none of which are about external success and power.
In Ms Dowd’s world, there are no happily married couples over 40. How could there be, if she isn’t in that group? In Ms Dowd’s world there is another unwritten rule- a marriage or relationship is only worth fighting for if you acknowledge that success or power as defining- ‘I am right, what I believe is right, because I’m Maureen Dowd. If I admit to being wrong, be grateful, because I am Maureen Dowd.’
How does Ms Dowd view motherhood?
Now they want to be Mrs. Anonymous Biological Robot in a Docile Mass. They dream of being rescued – to flirt, to shop, to stay home and be taken care of. They shop for “Stepford Fashions” – matching shoes and ladylike bags and the 50′s-style satin, lace and chiffon party dresses featured in InStyle layouts – and spend their days at the gym trying for Wisteria Lane waistlines.
The Times recently ran a front-page article about young women attending Ivy League colleges, women who are being groomed to take their places in the professional and political elite, who are planning to reject careers in favor of playing traditional roles, staying home and raising children.
In another example of self deceit, Ms Dowd would have you believe that parenting is no more than an expression of selfishness. It is about anything that isn’t substantive, an excuse not to work. It has to be, because Ms Dowd couldn’t even get into the game of life, love and fulfillment.
Would you want this woman marrying your brother, son, or anyone else in your family? Would you want her influencing children?
It wasn’t just Feminism that let Ms Dowd down. She let herself down, with her choices and nailed the box shut with her self deceit. Then she has the nerve to try and deceive the rest of us.
Feminism wasn’t all that complicated. It was supposed to be about well deserved equality. As we wrote, it became about something else- something that produced a generation of Maureen Dowd’s, all in denial.
Good luck finding a guy, Maureen.
October 11, 2005
“[My second son Naji] became a Shahid on Mar. 23, 2002, at the age of 20.
So begins an interview with the mother of a suicide bomber.
Before I made my pilgrimage [to Mecca], he put his hands on my head and said: “Be calm, mother, be calm, this is my wish. Pray for me, that I will be a Shahid [Die for Allah].” When I did the circuit [an Islamic pilgrimage ceremony], in Mecca and Medina, I swear to Allah, that I prayed for him… And said: Praise Allah, my children asked for Shahada, and it is better than the way we will die. Their death is for Allah, death for our country, death for our Jerusalem .”
“I have one wish for all Israeli mothers, for all Israelis: They should not relax, they should not sleep peacefully, they should always have nightmares, night and day, wherever they go, and whatever they do… not only from bombings or attacks, but nightmares day and night. They should dream of how the Palestinian people kill them, and blow them up. They should not be
relaxed, and should not sleep. Not them and not there sons, not their children, nor the Israeli army. They should not be able to travel on the buses, nor drive a tank, nor even ride a bike. Wherever they turn, the Israelis should see [someone] and say: “Maybe it’s a Palestinian.”
“This Jerusalem is our Jerusalem, and not yours. We are the children of Palestine, the Muslim nation, you will not live in comfort: not an Israeli’s mother, nor a soldier’s mother, nor a soldier’s grandfather, nor a soldier’s father. No Israeli of any kind should live in comfort. Even in their sleep, they will have nightmares. We will blow them up day and night, wherever they go. And I, as the mother of two Shahids, if I see an Israeli I will blow up among them.”
Presenter: “Of course, We are always very proud of all of our Shahids” (To be clear on what that means, see this).
Now, for something completely different. The Israeli co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics finds greatness elsewhere.
Aumann said that winning the Nobel prize was a big honor, but does not represent the peak of his aspirations as a scientist. “The Nobel prize is a wonderful thing, and I thank all those who wished me well, but I don’t think that winning the Nobel prize is the peak of every scientist’s aspirations. The peak of every scientist’s aspirations is like the aspirations of every person – and that is the wish to influence. There will always be research, and students, and students of students, until the end of generations. The aspiration is to make a difference and influence the world,” he said.
Professor Aumann cried when he stood on the speaker’s platform and remembered his wife, Ester, who died seven years ago of cancer.
“Rashi (Rabbinic commentator on the Old Testament-ed) said that the home of man is his wife. I’m very sorry that my home is not here. My home had the biggest impact on my life. She always told me: ‘You scientists can write endless articles, but most of them will be forgotten over the years. I influence the education of my children, and I too will be forgotten in another 150 years – but my influence will exist, and dozens and hundreds of children will walk around who were influenced by me.’ This is actually what we scientists want – to influence and change. The prize for me is not the main issue. Of course I am not sorry to win it, it represents the fact that I reached a certain point, but the prize is not the point,” said Aumann.
Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
October 10, 2005
Natural catastrophes have a way of bringing faith front and center, no doubt about it. After witnessing the devastating effects of Katrina, Rita and now, the earthquake in Pakistan, I had come to a few, very clear, conclusions.
I loved God.
I also hated God
I wanted to use the word ‘resent’ but I knew that would only sugar coat what it was I felt. I am not, nor have ever been, that politically correct.
I love God for the bounty and fortune he has brought into my life, that of my family and the lives of many in this country and elsewhere.
I hated God for the unfairness and cruelty that exists in the world today, that allowed for so many to hurt and for so many to die. I also hated God for an environment where so many others live lives of hopelessness, despair and in the constant shadow of death.
My struggle is a secret struggle- I have never told anyone or discussed it with anyone. It was one of those things I internalized and wrestled with.
I wanted so much for my relationship with God to be serene, sure and perfect. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t that.
My relationship with God was a struggle- it always has been. I’ve always questioned, defied and even rebelled. People laugh and are genuinely surprised when I tell them that. I don’t come across as the ‘bad boy’ but I have had my moments- very long moments- in the past. With the passage of time and the reality of real responsibility, they are fewer, farther between and less ‘bad.’ What possessed me to bungee jump (twice) three years ago still eludes me. It was something I had to try. Fathers don’t do that kind of thing.
There are still some mea culpa’s on my account that need to be reconciled.
As I watched the seemingly never ending images of tragedy and grief, I hated God with a fury.
The longer the images played out on the television screen, the more enraged I became. I hated God with an even colder passion. In truth, I wanted God to be responsible for nature. The blame had to be placed somewhere, right?
Of course, that is a simple, stupid and unthinking reaction- more of an unthinking reflex, really. That anger is a cheap shot at God, and offered me no insight and understanding into myself, my God or my faith. That reaction does nothing to alleviate my fears and anguish or even more importantly, the pain and suffering of others. That requires more than reactions. That requires effort- and commitment.
Belief, and even more so, acceptance is like work. It isn’t meant to be easy. It is meant to be a constant and ever more difficult struggle. As we get older and hopefully wiser, the burden becomes heavier as we deal with issues that aren’t so black and white.
I remember once reading and being struck by the notion that ‘the greater the belief, the greater the doubt.’
My issues are not about God. They are about me. God will tend to His affairs and I must tend to my own. That is the compact each of us have made, with God.
We are meant to carry a burden. It is the kind of burden and how we carry it that counts.
There are really two burdens. One burden is our own, to be carried alone. That burden is comprised of our lesser selves. The other burden is a communal one, to be divided amongst ourselves. That burden is our never ending contribution to make our world a better one, given from our better selves.
We are responsible for both burdens, in equal measure. By acknowledging both burdens- our own personal one and our communal responsibility, we halve the load of each, in many ways. Making moral choices helps not only ourselves, but our community as well. By supporting a community’s right choices and fighting against those things that may be harmful, we help ourselves lead the lives we need to.
Sadly, too many of us lose the sense of balance. For some, the personal struggle is the center of attention. Others fight for community and neglect the personal choices. In both cases there is the rationale that ‘because what I’m doing is good, I can afford to pay less attention to my other obligations.’
There has to be a balance or we sacrifice an important part of our lives.
Too often, we make religion and belief a zero sum game– an all or nothing proposition. Whatever it’s faults- and religion has many, that is one thing it is not supposed to be. Yet, of all things, that is the one dominant similarity religions have come to share. In the process, different religions and different beliefs within religion have become no more than marketing companies, trying to appeal to as many people as they can by ‘dumbing down’ the struggle and appealing to the ‘feel good’ needs without the struggle.
It’s as if religion has gone ‘TV’– we sit in front of the television for an hour and think we know understand the real issues and problems. We don’t need to study, struggle and wrestle with ideas and concepts that we have no clue about. That others have spent years doing just that is of no importance. We watch CNN, Fox or PBS and think we ‘know’ what’s going on.
Just attend the House of Worship of your choice and all will be revealed and understood. If you aren’t happy, there is always another channel down the road, with another script, requiring even less effort and even more tolerant of requiring no commitment’s to ideals and even beliefs.
Is it any wonder people are tuned out?
It is true that for a long time, organized religion didn’t ’speak to us.’ Religion responded not by elevating us, but rather by requiring less of us.
It has been asked, how did we reach the point that the Sabbath Day highlight is a football game? The answer is easy, I think. We can be passionate about our teams and our sports because for a few hours, we can be as involved as we want, without real commitment. When the game is over, we get on with our lives. No more attention required, till the next game.
Organized religion imitated that, to compete. Show up, sing, dance and pray and you’re done with it till next week.
I always wondered how on earth clergy people could be good marriage counselors. They don’t require any commitment to God from their parishioners. How on earth could they advise anyone about commitments?
Sometimes I wonder if our society has abandoned religion, or if religion has abandoned us.
Albert Einstein said ‘God doesn’t play dice with the Universe’- meaning there was a purpose to creation. I don’t know the meaning of it all. I don’t know my purpose on this earth or anyone else’s. I’m not even sure I want to know.
The only thing I do know is that God is here and has expectations from us. We are required not to be perfect, but rather to do the best we can. We know God in two ways. We know what we are asked to do, in how we treat our fellow man. We also know that we are expected to have a personal relationship with Him in matters of the heart and soul– a relationship that is deeply private and intimate.
I don’t know why God made nature so destructive. I don’t know why people have to endure such unimaginable suffering.
God will do and tend to the things he needs to, and I will do and attend to things I need to.
I will not worry about other people’s private relationship with God, or the what and why of what He has in store for them, or what the ‘Grand Plan’ may be.
There are far too many other things down here I need to concern myself with. There are victims of natural catastrophes and there are victims of man made evil. It is incumbent upon me to restore them in the best way I can.
I have been blessed. I will continue to pray to be so blessed– and that I have the further opportunity to be a meaningful influence on others, those close and those not so close to me.