Deconstructing And The Making Of Mother Teresa
Nancy Reyes, in Blogger News Network:
The ever so politically correct NYTimes has decided to slime Mother Teresa. Why am I not surprised?
And the one they allowed to do it was an American who grew up in Calcutta, and is embarrassed that the only thing that most Americans know of Calcutta is Mother Teresa.
“…the only images Calcutta evoked for him and countless others in the West….. They described a city I didn’t recognize as the place where I had spent the first 20 years of my life. There was no mention of Calcutta’s beautiful buildings and educated middle class, or its history of religious tolerance and its vibrant literary and cultural life”…
I can understand the lady’s frustration that Americans don’t know much about the dances, music or literature produced in that vibrant city. After all, how many Americans study Tagore’s poetry in high school, or know about Indian dance, music or art?
So maybe the lady should write an editorial praising Calcutta’s history, and write about how India, not China, is the rising giant that might lead the twenty first century.
Or maybe the lady should point out how Indians are succeeding in the US, and Indian Americans include astronauts, doctors, businessmen, and politicians.
No, instead she criticizes Mother Teresa...
...the author’s dismissal of Mother Teresa as a vestige of colonialism is absurd. Few Americans know Mother Teresa is Albanian, and even if they knew that, few Americans know where Albania is located. The average American (or Pinoy) sees Mother Teresa as an Indian, and her Indian sisters are loved and recognized not just as Catholics but as ambassadors of of good will from India, whether they work in a poor Pennsylvania coal town or the slums of Manila.
And the author blames Mother Teresa for making Calcutta, not Mumbai, has become an icon for poverty in the modern world...
Critics who dismiss Mother Teresa as publicity seeking ignore that she started work in 1950, when those fleeing the horrors of Partition were still living in destitution, and few had heard of her work before Malcolm Muggerage’s film for the BBC in 1971.As a doctor, I can only shake my head at those sophisticated critics that lament her hospices don’t meet the year 2000 standards of university hospitals. They ignore the question: If Mother Teresa’s hospice was not there, where would the people go? To other Indian hospices? To University hospitals, with private beds and gourmet meals?... The rest off the criticisms similarly show a strange envy of the good. But why Mother Teresa? Why not slime American born Ram Dass and the Indian doctors and who helped wipe out small pox in India? Or slime Mother Wichiencharoen, a Buddhist nun, for her shelters in Bangkok?
But we all know why, don’t we? The NYTimes doesn’t like Catholics.
It’s the sex stupid.
Mother Teresa opposed abortion and promoted chastity. How dare she impose her rigid Catholic morality on poor Hindus, (whose religion, by the way, also opposes abortion and promotes chastity).
But the editors of the NYTimes can’t have a rich American slime Mother Teresa, so they find an Indian born woman to do it.
So let’s destroy the reputation of Mother Teresa, and we won’t feel so guilty at our next cocktail party.
As Yeats wrote many years ago:
Come let us mock at the great
That had such burdens on the mind
And toiled so hard and late
To leave some monument behind,
Nor thought of the levelling wind…
Mock mockers after that
That would not lift a hand maybe
To help good, wise or great
To bar that foul storm out, for we
Traffic in mockery.
Like moths drawn to a flame, the NYT, et al, are drawn to deconstructing what is good. As if in a hypnotic trance, the need to minimize the influence of people of faith who are responsible for demonstrable and profound good becomes a secular obsession.
After reading our post, Time Faith And Progress, a reader emailed and asked us, "Why is it so hard for good to triumph over evil?" In addition, our learned reader posed a second question: "How do we establish a relationship with God? What do we have to sacrifice of ourselves, to do just that?"
We believe that both those questions are related.
Within each of us is found our essence- that core raison d'etre that we all share. We have within each of us, an essential goodness. Our most meaningful and profound moments are times spent with each other in peace, or doing good for others. Instinctively, this is what we want to teach our children.
That said, having that goodness emerge from within is not easy. One of the great challenge we all face is recognizing who we really are, the real look to our souls that provides the insight that defines the nature of our existence. It is when we are able to share that part of ourselves with others that we truly allow the best part of ourselves to emerge- and it is from that best part of ourselves that our potential can be reached. As we reach out to our potential, we need to remember that there are others sharing in our endeavor, willing to help and offer a helping hand. They too, are partners in actualizing their own, and our successes.
It is said that evil exists because 'good men do nothing.'
In other words, there are people who refuse or are unable to reach inside, to that very best part of themselves. They cannot or will not actualize their potential. It isn't that they do not recognize the good within themselves- they do- they just cannot seem to reach that good and make it a tangible and real expression of themselves.
We are not all Mother Teresa. That said, because we are not all Mother Teresa, we ought not diminish her status so that we might be her equal.The ability to reach within and bring the very best of who we are isn't easy. If it were, we'd all be heroes.
We live in a world that trivializes goodness and and character. The virtues of money, sex and inflexibility are celebrated and extolled. 'Take no prisoners' has come to define not only political agendas, but moral ones as well. Success often means trading in values that might actualize the very best of who we are, for values that will clearly enslave us.
We do have the ability to reach that part of ourselves that is the best of ourselves and if we choose, we can make that self actualization as natural as breathing. Who we are won't change- in fact, we can choose to reach out to our own unique potential and evolve into our best selves. Each of us has within our grasp, the opportunity to be our own expression of Mother Teresa.
The quickest way to the road of self actualization that can reveal the best of ourselves is very simple.
Be considerate of others. Acknowledge their existence and relevance.
It does not matter who you are or what you do for a living or what your interests are. Be considerate to those around you. Mother Teresa's work was noble- she ministered to the ill, the dying and dead. That was her work. Her greatness came from the consideration she gave everyone she came in contact with. Some tremble in the presence of God. Mother Teresa extended dignity to all souls, all a reflection of the presence of God.She saw in every human being the myriad of reflections of God's Creation.
Your inner 'best self' will not ever replace your outer best self. No matter how well intentioned, if the best of your inner self is not manifested in your outer self, you have not reached your potential. The meaning of that lost potential is not measured by those who will not benefit from that lost potential. The real and most profound loss is the burden you will bear. Actualizing your best self is about making the small world around you a better place. If you elevate the world around you, then you elevate yourself.
Reaching our best selves is about integrating all those things that make up our lives and transform those things into a life that is unified and meaningful. We are not required to dispose or kill off any part of ourselves to make room for something 'new and improved.
We will each be remembered for the inner self that was expressed in our outer selves, that part of us that relates to others. Our achievements might be recognized of course, but in the end, what will come to define us all are the small things, the 'inner self' that was manifested outwardly. Bill Gates daughters will remember him not for his wealth, but for how good a father he was. They will remember his smile and not his stock portfolio. They will remember the walks to the parks and playgrounds, not the programs or presents. Similarly, he will be remembered by others here and in places far away, for the efforts to help, to reach out and make a difference.
For good to triumph over evil, we need to access and actualize our better selves. It is not difficult to do good- in fact, it is rather fulfilling and addictive! It is difficult to begin to do good. For that to happen, we need to make the effort to reach inside.
Of course, we see the extolled Mother Teresa's and John Paul II's and say to ourselves, well, I don't want to be like that! Who can fault anyone for thinking that?
(We recall a conversation with a friend who attended Catholic school, years ago. She recalled, as a very young girl, how the nuns would come into her classroom every Friday and remind them how they had to 'heed the call' if they heard it. My friend recounted how her most fervent prayers to God were reserved for Fridays, as she beseeched God not to call her.)
We do not have to sacrifice ourselves, our very being, whatever that might be, to establish a relationship with God. In fact, the only way we can have a real relationship with God is to understand ourselves, to seek out real insight.
With remarkable and clarity and acuity, Dr Sanity describes insight. She first notes,
Insight is a wonderful thing. The power or act of seeing into a situation and apprehending the inner nature or motivation of one's self--especially the why--can be extremely liberating... Only by being aware of these kind of hidden truths and inner motivations can a person gain control over them...
Awareness of self does not change the self. It only empowers one to transform and elevate themselves. We remain ourselves- we only reach into ourselves and have access and the potential to actualize the best of who we are.
Dr Sanity goes on to note that the ability to transform and elevate oneself is not easy, notwithstanding the plethora of 'pop psychology' mantras that claim "change is simple" and comes at no cost.
But insight can also sometimes be devastating...
But there are situations where achieving insight and understanding the motives behind one's behavior (as well as what one can and cannot control) can generate deserved guilt and shame. That is when such emotions can be productive and initiate a change in behavior for the good. While it is painful to acknowledge horrible truths--but truths nonetheless-- such understanding of one's self is essential for personal growth and normal personality development[emp- SC&A].
There is an inner courage required to look at one's self in the mirror of insight and truly know the person looking back. All of us are capable of the most horrible behavior; just as we are capable of finding ways to rationalize it and cover it up or blame others for it. Psychological health requires that we look into that mirror frequently and understand our own motivations and behaviors and not flinch in recognizing the truth about ourselves.
It is only through insight, that real understanding of who we are and where we fit it- when need to acknowledge our strengths and when we need to be humble, that we can comprehend that what is transcendent- that awareness that we are indeed connected to something bigger than ourselves and that connection actually empowers us. Define that as you will.
Transcendence is real because our connections to each other and other realities, are real. Within each of us, is a bond with each other, that if left to each us and not to those with agendas and ideologies, for the most part, we will value and cherish. Actualizing that 'inner good' strengthens that bond- and gives 'leaders' less of a grip on us.
All our agendas and ideologies have a limited life span, because they are valid and fueled only as long as there are those that need to fuel those ideas and agendas. Those things that are transcendent need to no fuel and will endure forever. Not even on their death beds do children forget their mothers and not even in dementia is a fathers touch forgotten. And through it all, no one needs to remind a parent just how much they love their children.
We can achieve transcendence because we are part of a transcendent world. It is our choice to plug in all the time, some times or never. We can choose to be considerate, compassionate, loving and kind.
We have written about Mother Teresa's 'struggle with faith,' and the supposed 'darkness' she endured. When looking back at Mother Teresa's life and work, it bears remembering that her darkness lit up our world- and there is nothing the NYT can write that will ever change that truth.