Look At Me!

Look At Me! January 25, 2022

No, I mean, no, you really don’t.

I seriously should not be blogging this week because…well, my goodness, it’s finals week for the semester for five out of six children, first week back at school for the sixth one, my laundry room is one of those dumpsters on fire that’s floating down the middle of a desolated flooded street, and I’ve got another deadline. I should not be surfing the internet looking for stuff to complain about. But really, am I going to start my workday at 6:40 in the morning? Or am I going to sit here and suck down more oolong and try to push off the inevitable frantic race that makes up a Tuesday?

And as I sit here, the thing that bothers me the most is the idea–articulated so well by Jen Hatmaker, but I do think that too many people do believe this–that ” women living in freedom are the answer to all that ails society.” This isn’t a new deep thought for her. She’s written it in every single one of her books. Women being who they are is the thing that saves the world.

The way that she arrives at this revelatory insight, of course, is by recasting the troubles of the world as both not as bad, and as much worse, than they really are. This is always what you have to do when you come up with a new solution to life’s difficulties (Barbara Pym, you might remember, recommends Ovaltine for those stressful moments–would that more of us followed her good example). The ills have to become primarily social and material, rather than spiritual. And they have to be able to be fixed mainly with more money and with a vague sense of goodwill. Feelings become a sort of force field that actually has power to transform a circumstance from one thing into another thing. If the feelings can be moved around, jostled into place, the thing–whatever it is–will come right (manifesting much?). Then you shellack various kinds of actions over the top that do make you feel better, at least about yourself if not anyone else, and the problem is solved and you go on to the next one. It doesn’t matter if the solution ruins the lives of other people. You’re not thinking about it anymore. You didn’t have an objective measure of any kind to judge the results. In this way, Americans are busily trying to fix the troubles of “Racism” and “Covid” and “Inequity” and “Unhappiness” and “Poverty.”

I suppose, in some sense, that this might be a very “female” way of changing the world, but I think there’s no real evidence of that. I think men probably feel things too, and arrange the lives of others according to those feelings. But perhaps not as much. I don’t know. I do know that “women living in freedom” as the answer “to all that ails society,” is definitely the path to totalitarian ruin. “Freedom” for example, could never be defined enough to make the whole project come to a stop because it actually succeeded or failed. It would be something that went on forever, reaching into the far corners of everybody’s souls. Moreover, what all does “ail society?” Could we all possibly agree on what that was?

Well, we wouldn’t all have to. For it is a bright, tantalizing invitation, as I said, to arrange the lives of other people according to your own emotional proclivities. As you get your life together, you will be able to stretch out your hands and make other people get their lives together. You will be able to see what’s wrong with whole systems, with communities, with governments, with the world. You’ll just know, because you’ve arranged your life correctly. You’ll help others arrange theirs.

It’s that mushy modern concoction of the influencer messing about with “helpless” self-gifting–Look at me! I’m a mess! Life is so hard! But I can do hard things! I’ll show you all I’ve learned! Follow me! This is so fun! And important!–with the assumptions about what the good life even is, what produces happiness, and how other people should live that make me so uncomfortable. Middle-class unhappy American women whose families are so tragically unraveling are not the kinds of people who should be teaching anyone anything. They insist that they have it together, but they don’t really, because they don’t remember the first and most important truth, that God is God, and they are not Him.

Not to otherize middle-class unhappy American women. I don’t like calling anyone “they,” but it does seem to constitute a demographic grouping that shares certain kinds of assumptions and beliefs about life. Anyone who finds themselves as part of this group, could, of course, back away and go into some kind of happier pasture. Men and women alike could rediscover that God is a knowable being who speaks, and that listening to his voice is the only path to happiness.

Oop! My blogging minute is over. Have a nice day!

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

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