Thursday, March 25, 2010

Social Equality?

In an interview with the loved and detested Glenn Beck, Brad Thor says, "It is impossible to have a system of government that promotes social equality and social justice and also defends individual liberties." There is that phrase that I can't stand: social equality. Before you freak out and tell me I'm heartless, let me explain. What I mean is, I think people use "social equality" and "social justice" very flippantly. Who doesn't believe in justice for all? For crying out loud, it's in our Pledge of Allegiance. I mean, if you say you don't believe in "social justice" people assume you believe only the blonde-haired and blue-eyed should survive. The problem is, people like Glenn Beck say to run from it, and the people who preach it say he's the antichrist. Does anyone even know what anyone else is talking about? So here are some definitions from Media Matters:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church deals specifically with "Social Justice." From the Catechism: "Society ensures social justice by providing the conditions that allow associations and individuals to obtain their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority."

For those who are not Catholic, the Catechism refers to basically a summary of their doctrine.

Conservative and Reform Jews promote social justice. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has a section of its website devoted to "Social Justice," detailing positions on topics such as "Judaism and Health Care Reform" and "Jewish Community Budget Priorities." ("We have long been involved with the annual budget process, advocating for policies and programs that assist the most vulnerable people in our nation.") And the Union for Reform Judaism's Commission on Social Action "seeks to apply the insights of Jewish tradition to such domestic and foreign issues as human rights, world peace, civil liberties, religious freedom, famine, poverty, intergroup relations, as well as other major societal concerns..."

Beck said, "Look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can." He went on to say that those phrases are code for Socialism. So, I am sure Mr. Beck is not opposed to the rainbows and butterflies picture that social justice really paints, a world in which everyone is happy and equal and nobody wants any more than they truly need. But Beck is a realist. He knows we don't live in a utopia, and we cannot live in a utopia. Jesus said, "in this world you will have trouble..." Yes, He also said to help the "least of these" and to love your neighbor as yourself. Interestingly, yesterday's reading in My Utmost For His Highest, written by Oswald Chambers long before this Health Care Reform plagued the nation, says to us:

If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will... and when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or in hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, "This person should not have to experience this difficulty..." You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34 ).

My boyfriend pointed out that reading to me yesterday. And while it reminded us a lot of parents and family members always swooping in to save the day for ungrateful children and kin, it made me think most about health care. What does Matthew 10:34 say? It is Jesus, telling us "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

You see, this is where I think that the idea of social justice runs amok. Life is not easy. It's not. Even if all of your healthcare bills are paid, you may still have incureable heartache. Even though you have very little, you can be content. Our society is obsessed with money. It may make the world go 'round, but it does not define us.

Do you know what happened? We were stamped as "The Land of Opportunity," and people got confused about what that word opportunity really means. It doesn't mean The Land of Get-Rich-Quick. It doesn't mean The Land of Free Stuff. It doesn't mean The Land Where All of Your Ills Will be Cured. Opportunity is none of that. It simply means, according to Meriam Webster, 1 : a favorable juncture of circumstances ... 2 : a good chance for advancement or progress.

And, really, isn't that the same as "social justice?" Glen Beck promotes the foundation of America, the land of opportunity, but says run from social justice. Why? Because people aren't doing their homework, that's why. Because "social justice," and "land of opportunity" used to mean the exact same thing, but for some reason today we believe that "social justice" is the same as evening the playing field. So, instead of making the most of circumstances and chance, we are instead attempting to change those two things. We want now to change the chance to be lucky for ourselves, and the circumstances to lean in our favor. Seems to me like everyone forgot what it means to work hard.

Here is the business dictionary's definition of social justice, which sounds like what we already have in this country as far as laws go. You tell me:

Fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice. See also civil rights.

I think everyone has gone mad. Maybe if we all stopped complaining all the time we might actually get something done.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mr. Good Enough

Ahh, I have found someone who agrees with me. Lori Gottlieb wrote a book called, Marry Him: the Case for Mr. Good Enough. Interestingly, the German title of this book is Take Him: You Are Not Going to Find Someone Better. I wrote in my previous post, Role Play: the Shriver Report that gender roles and the whole idea of feminism and independence have spun a little out of control. In that post maybe I was a little hard on men, suggesting that many of my generation's males are sub par when it comes to fulfilling their "role." I am not suggesting, however, that women are not at fault, because in all actuality, we are at least 50 percent to blame.

Recently my best bud, the beautiful and wonderful Lisa, reminded me of Matthew McConaughey's wise words:

Sometimes when a woman falls for a guy, she [asks him to change], and he changes so much that she loses her Huck Finn, the rascal in the man she fell in love with. Men are willing to change to make you happy -- but don't completely take the boy out of the man. You're gonna miss him.

Don't we do that? Don't we grow up hearing, "wait for Mr. Right," "you deserve someone who will treat you the way you want to be treated," "don't settle," "when he's the right one you'll just know it," and "he's not good enough for you?" I'm not saying that these words are wrong. Many times they are right on track. But add them to the slew of fantasy stories, songs and reality shows, and you have a recipe for marital (or single) disaster. I, like Lori Gottlieb admits about herself, am no expert. But she makes some really good points that I think are worth considering:

statistically, most women do want to go through life with a partner. And I think that what's tricky about this, and why a lot of women in their 20s will be more offended than the women in their 30s, who looked at this with more, perhaps, life experience, is that in your 20s, because of this whole idea of empowerment and we-don't-have-to-compromise-on-anything and we're so independent and self-sufficient, a lot of us think, "Well of course I wanna meet my soul mate and of course I wanna get married, but if it doesn't happen — that's okay, I will be okay." Better to be alone for the right reasons ...

Better to be alone and be right! Our society teaches us to be so prideful. So many of us think that to compromise is to be weak, and women have spent so many years trying to earn independence and respect that they are now on the total other side: deathly afraid to appear weak, and therefore likely to be completely inflexible. Gottlieb goes on to say:

As I say in the beginning of the book, settling in our culture has this very negative connotation like you're picking the schlubby guy who repulses you. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is we consider picking someone who doesn't meet everything on our checklist. Like that's sort of what our culture is like: "Well, he's not this or that or the other thing, and am I settling?" We're so worried that we're settling if we don't get 100 percent of what we want. So I'm encouraging women to, yes, not get 100 percent of what they want. Some people call that settling, some people don't. I call it finding a great husband.

This is interesting, too, because it seems women are more often preoccupied with the slight imperfections in their partners than men are. I think women ask themselves the "am I settling" question much more often than men do. Men probably just ask themselves the "is she going to get fat in a few years" question. (Kidding. Mostly.)

So anyway, of course all of this reminded me of a study they're covering at church right now- a book by Chip Ingram called, Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships. One of the most interesting things that Chip talks about is the formula for love: God's way, and the world's way. The world's way (the Hollywood formula, as he calls it) goes like this:
1. Find the right person.
2. Fall in love. (Get really emotional, really fast.)
3. Put all your hopes and dreams on that person.
4. When it doesn't work, assume you've chosen the wrong person and go out and look for a new mate. Repeat. Over and over and over.

God's way goes like this:
1. Become the right person.
2. Walk in love, choosing to love someone no matter what (agape).
3. Put all of your hopes and dreams in God, knowing only he can fulfill you, not another (flawed) human being.
4. Start over at step one if it doesn't work out.

The reason Gottlieb's book reminds me of Ingram's is because it turns the focus more onto ourselves. God suggests we remove the plank from our own eye before removing the splinter from someone else's, and so it should be in love as well. The problem is, society teaches something very different. Taylor Swift sings, "Romeo, save me..." as though another person is going to come into our lives and make us whole. Where is the feminism in that? We are skewed in our belief that the knight-in-shining-armour will sweep us off our feet, but yet we will retain our autonomy. So many of us are dissatisfied with men who aren't "sensitive" enough and won't "listen to our feelings," but yet we want them to treat us as gender equals. Women will be women, and men will be men.

Maybe the reason marriages were more successful in centuries past was because there weren't any outside factors influencing people to think that maybe, just maybe, there was someone out there who was just a little bit better than their current spouse. (Men, this goes for you too because I know sometimes you get to thinking you could score an Angelina Jolie look-alike if you just. kept. looking.)

Maybe we're all just too caught up in the Hollywood formula, and we need to get back to our roots. Somewhere along the way, someone convinced us that perfect people exist. And, while we ourselves are not perfect, we deserve someone who is- and we should search until we die, if we have to, to find that person. Phew! Don't know about you, but that sounds exhausting. I'd rather spend my time on something more useful.

In fact, I'll start by removing shards of wood from my eye.