I’m not Catholic anymore, but that’s how I was raised, and even though I’ve :::hand to forehead::: fallen away, there are parts of the One True that just stay with you. Which is the long way around to saying that when a Jesuit speaks about morality, I tend to listen with an open mind.
And hey, one did, Fr. James Martin, S.J., asking the question in the headline: How Do You Respond When an Anti-Vaxxer Dies of Covid?
Great question! I struggle with this one. There have been a few high-profile Covid deaths around here, and a few more on the national stage. I’m absolutely out of fucks, as the kids say, but I can’t go so far as touchdown dancing all over the internet, either. Death is the undiscovered country, and the dead know something we don’t. So give them that.
Martin has a few things to say on this topic:
At this point I could run through a list of philosophers, theologians and wise voices from religions and traditions around the world to prove my point. Instead I will reclaim a word that has been largely lost from our discourse: mean. Crowing over someone’s suffering or demise is as far from a moral act as one can imagine. It’s cruel.
Indulged in regularly, schadenfreude ends up warping the soul. It robs us of empathy for those with whom we disagree. It lessens our compassion. To use some language from both the Old and New Testaments, it “hardens” our hearts. No matter how much I disagree with anti-vaxxers, I know that schadenfreude over their deaths is a dead end.
“Come on!” some might say. “It’s a natural emotion.” That’s true — and emotions are usually beyond our control. If someone coughs intentionally (or thoughtlessly) in your face on the subway, it’s natural to get angry. At least for a few seconds.
But what you do with those emotions — give in to them, prolong them or intensify them — is a moral decision. After your fellow subway rider coughs in your face, you don’t need to express your anger by punching him. Simply letting your emotions take you wherever they please is what a baby does, not an adult.
I think that’s right. Higher in the column, he talks about Laura Ingraham, “a commentator who often expresses her belief in ‘Christian values,’ applauded the news that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had tested positive for the coronavirus despite being vaccinated and boosted.” I want nothing to do with Laura Ingraham. So I’ll try it Fr. Martin’s way.
Speaking of morality, one of the zillion Republicans vying for the gubernatorial nomination here in Michigan stepped in it this week, making the case for women pregnant as a result of rape to be “heroic” and choose to carry their fetuses to term.
I’ve long found this position repugnant, but at least morally consistent; after all, if you believe all zygotes, embryos and fetuses to be fully formed humans with civil and constitutional rights, then you might as well go all the way. The people who say sorry, gotta have that kid are fully living their beliefs. The ones who make rape/incest exceptions are saying those embryos are expendable, but not the ones that came because you were a slutty slut. That’s directly punitive of women for their sexual choices, and even worse.
He’s not going to be the nominee, although I don’t know who will be, either. I do know that in just the last few days — and it’s only Tuesday! — one candidate has advocated for election interference and another for forced childbearing.
So now we’re all hunkered down, waiting for the big storm. Eight inches, no 12 inches, no FIFTEEN INCHES of snow, headed our way. We’ll be stuck indoors for two days, at least. So now, I’m going out to snag a cheeseburger made by someone else while I still can. Stay safe if you’re in the path.