As Jesus reminded us way back when, it’s as difficult for a camel to go through the eye of a needle as it is for a rich man to get to heaven. What’s the answer for a rich man who wants to enter those pearly gates? Help the poor. Jesus taught us that those who are well off should be giving to those who are not. It’s called charity, alms, or–to give it a nice glossy feel by putting it in French–noblesse oblige: the privileged have a duty to help those below them. Jesus didn’t speak French ( He could have, of course, even though it wasn’t invented yet), but noblesse oblige is what he meant. How far this duty goes and how much to give away is up for discussion, but whatever the answer, it’s not just about money. Noblesse oblige also contains the idea that the privileged have a moral duty to set an example of good behavior for the rest of us.
Jesus would need a good month, maybe even a year, to educate the guy in the White House. He’d have to talk about the needs of migrants at the border, how the poor need health care, about giving away more of his wealth and how to work on keeping his temper…but what would He say about the treatment of women?
Unfortunately, in our blighted century we have an equally ancient trend that has eclipsed noblesse oblige—the droit de seigneur or ius primae noctus– that charming custom of the Middle Ages that allowed the lord of the manor to bed a village maid on her wedding night while her groom paced in agony outside. Charlton Heston gave a memorable demonstration of this (the bedding, not the pacing) in a film of the 1960s, The Warlord. He had come a long way from his Moses and Ben-Hur.
These days le droit has morphed into open season on women for the rich and famous. Our modern lords of the manor are guys like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and of course the current occupant of the Oval Office, men who seem to think that their wealth, celebrity status and the power that goes with that allows them a free hand to force their attentions and worse on any woman who strikes their fancy. Far from setting a good example their attacks have set a new low standard, and a certain type of man is, no doubt, acting out his own predatory fantasies about women by saying to himself, “if the President has done it, why not me?”
Women are fighting back in all kinds of ways, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could get back to a place where men in the news, especially those we elect to high office, treat women well? Where they approach them with a courtly dignity? I understand why Melania might still be hanging on–maybe she believes her son’s welfare is on the line. But I’m completely baffled by the Vice-President, an Evangelical who agreed to serve with someone so obviously reprehensible in this regard. Why, would you do that, Mike? What are you telling your kids?
Parents, especially Christian parents, get busy and make sure your children know that the man in the White House is an example of what NOT to do. Then maybe if enough of you go to the polls and make your disgust known, we can live in a country where the news is not dominated by porn stars, adultery, hush money, groping, rape and lies, lies, lies.