The Thinking 

Emmie’s Adventure

January 4, 2010


A Field Guide to Evil would be handy sometimes, wouldn’t it? It could offer graphics that look like geological cross-sections, with their observable layers of rock. Like the earth, evil is multilayered, extending into the past and composed of radically different materials.

Here is a perfect example of what I mean.

Lisa Belkin of the New York Times in her Adventures in Parenting series (take note of the title; that’s one layer) interviews a woman who has become unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 22. She is unmarried and has just been accepted into a prestigious master’s program. Belkin presents Emmie’s case and solicits comments on what the young woman should do about her predicament. Seven hundred readers write in with their ideas. After publicly considering the possibilities of adoption, raising the child and abortion (marriage does not appear to be an option she considers), Emmy opts for an abortion. She ends her meditations on the subject with this kernel of heartfelt wisdom:

If I get my degree then maybe the path it will take me on will lead me to work on women’s issues. Maybe one day I’ll make a million dollars and start a scholarship program for pregnant graduate students. I can’t believe that nothing good can come of this, I know I’ll do something right one of these days.

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The Sadness of Amazons

January 4, 2010


Not long ago, I wrote about hiking in the mountains and of coming across lesbian couples who had an air of toughness and lonely vulnerability. In comments regarding the recent entry on modesty and shame, a reader describes an experience that eerily echoes my own.

Charles writes:

Laura wrote: “There is one other important thing to remember. Many people are deeply unhappy. They are begging for normalcy and don’t know where to find it. Loneliness and the absence of piety, reverence and beauty in their lives is killing them from the inside.” 

Well stated. I see this frequently. I observed it several weeks ago while my wife and I were taking a day hike up the side of a mountain in the Appalachians. We encountered numerous groups of people enjoying this sparkling autumn day. However, the group that stood out to us was a group of four young women, probably late 20s to early 30s; all attractive and fit. Although, they were not profane in their choice of words, they were – at one point on the trail – very openly berating and insulting each other in front of everyone else. It was supposed to be all in fun, of course. It was a show and I concluded they must be showing off. I was repulsed by it and I did not want to listen to people tear each other up with their words – even if it was supposedly in jest. 

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