In a gutsy, thoughtful article at the American Thinker , Danusha V. Goska describes her intellectual journey from a family of card-carrying Communists to discovering she wanted to spend time with people “building, cultivating, and establishing, something that they loved.”
There’s a lot to mull over in Goska’s piece, but it was her discovery of a moral and religious framework that struck me. Rather than a “nihilistic void” that had been her life, Goska encountered people whose faith informed their actions in concrete and truly helpful ways. They weren’t just protesting against something; they were working towards something. She recounts her time with both the Peace Corps and the Sisters of Charity:
Peace Corps did not focus on the “small beginnings” necessary to accomplish its grandiose goals. Schools rarely ran, girls and low caste children did not attend, and widespread corruption guaranteed that all students received passing grades. Those students who did learn had no jobs where they could apply their skills, and if they rose above their station, the hereditary big men would sabotage them. Thanks to cultural relativism, we were forbidden to object to rampant sexism or the caste system. “Only intolerant oppressors judge others’ cultures.”
I volunteered with the Sisters of Charity. For them, I pumped cold water from a well and washed lice out of homeless people’s clothing. The sisters did not want to save the world. Someone already had. The sisters focused on the small things, as their founder, Mother Teresa, advised, “Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love.” Delousing homeless people’s clothing was one of my few concrete accomplishments.
It was the experience of a devastating illness that brought home the difference between those who screeched with rage against the 1% and the stupidity of faithful adherents to Judeo-Christian tenets and actual believers.
In 1995 I developed a crippling illness. I couldn’t work, lost my life savings, and traveled through three states, from surgery to surgery.
A left-wing friend, Pete, sent me emails raging against Republicans like George Bush, whom he referred to as “Bushitler.” The Republicans were to blame because they opposed socialized medicine. In fact it’s not at all certain that socialized medicine would have helped; the condition I had is not common and there was no guaranteed treatment.
I visited online discussion forums for others with the same affliction. One of my fellow sufferers, who identified himself as a successful corporate executive in New Jersey, publicly announced that the symptoms were so hideous, and his helpless slide into poverty was so much not what his wife had bargained for when she married him, that he planned to take his own life. He stopped posting after that announcement, though I responded to his post and requested a reply. It is possible that he committed suicide, exactly as he said he would — car exhaust in the garage. I suddenly realized that my “eat the rich” lapel button was a sin premised on a lie.
I had a friend, a nun, Mary Montgomery, one of the Sisters of Providence, who took me out to lunch every six months or so, and gave me twenty-dollar Target gift cards on Christmas. Her gestures to support someone, rather than expressions of hate against someone — even though these gestures were miniscule and did nothing to restore me to health — meant a great deal to me.
It seems that Goska decided to live her life for something – compassion, God, others – rather than living a life against something – the rich, the powerful, a relativistic worldview. Goska’s experience should reinforce that our kindness and generosity is worth far more than our rhetoric.