Mother Theresa And The Hexe Of Buchenwald

“We have so far to go to realize our human potential for compassion, altruism and love”

Jane Goodall.

There is always some speculation that if women replaced men and ruled the world, it would be a happier place, without the continuing outrages of crime, racism and war that typifies so much of human history. Looking at statistics, it would almost seem that men do dwell at the root of each and every global cataclysm. Let’s face it, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and any heavy handed thug who currently contaminates the global village is male. Taking a step back in time, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Ayatollah Khomeini, Fidel Castro, and other notorious dictators were all male. On a level more close to home, more men commit crimes like murder, arson, kidnaping, and all other criminal enterprises than do women. The great conquerers of history—Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and so many others—were all men.

At the same time, we must concede that males are more likely to commit crimes of violence than are females. In my particular society, contemporary United States of America, men are more likely than women to become alcoholics, spend time in jail or prison, die from a wide range of common sense defying activities.

Beginning in the 1960’s, as the doors of opportunity were flung open, often not without serious confrontation and resistance, more women and minority members have taken education seriously and entered the professions. Today, there are more women physicians, dentists, scientists, veterinarians, attorneys than ever before, and the numbers are increasing. Politically, during this particularly venomous election year, more and more women, particularly women of color, are running for prestigious positions such as US Senator.

Well and good. I have to believe that a world governed by the likes of Jane Goodall, for instance, or Jacinda Ardern, the current prime minister of New Zealand, might be a happier world.

In the course of my nearly forty years in the classroom, from Head Start to university, I formed two new student organizations at my old school, Ashland High School in Ashland, Ohio. In 1980, Doug Denbow, a friend and colleague, and I formed what was believed to be the first chapter of the human rights organization Amnesty International in a public high school. Each week, members would come trooping to my classroom after school to write letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, those imprisoned, tortured, facing execution but who had committed no crime of violence, no crime at all in most cases. Our letters went out to the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Columbia, Mexico, Uganda, Mali, Poland, South Africa, and other faraway places.

The first case we worked on was that of a young Mexican university student who was working his way through college as a custodian. When he learned how poorly paid his fellow custodians were, he organized a union to lobby for better wages. For this criminal act, he had been arrested, incarcerated and held incommunicado. We barraged the Mexican attorney general with our letters, many penned in Spanish, thanks to the assistance of the Spanish teacher. Our spirits were lifted sky high when we began to receive communications that the young man had been released. Of course, we had less success in the case of prisoners in the USSR and Uganda.

While our organization attracted some truly superlative male students, the majority of our membership consisted of young women.

Some years later, again with the assistance of other faculty members, I formed an environmental group, eventually bearing the acronym S.A.V.E., for Students Assisting the Vital Earth, associated with the Sierra Club. Once again, several highly motivated young men signed on, but also, again, the great majority of members were young women. Several girls approached me about forming an animal rights group, but I retired before I could pursue that worthy goal.

Whenever I could check with other teachers in other school systems where student activities centered around such issues as environmental protection are concerned, the same ratio was found; mostly female members. Could it be, as often charged, that more women than men care about such things as incarceration of the innocent, the torture of children, captives executed for simply falling afoul of the ponderous Soviet state or some local generalissimo. Is it possible that only women give a hoot about preserving the earth that sustains us or care deeply about the agonies of laboratory animals.

If such is the case, then a world ruled by women cannot arrive fast enough. But, which women. If it is a matter of good women vs. bad women, then we find ourselves in no better straits than when we troop to the polls to decide which male political candidate is worse than his rival. I have found myself in that dilemma more than once, sometimes sending me off cursing that I would toss my vote to the candidate of a fringe party. The Greens may have their day yet.

On that dark day March 21, 1556, when Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was led to the stake and faced concremation because Queen Mary was in a snit over his theological stands, it is to be doubted that he would have had much to say about the beneficence of female rulers. Given the nickname Bloody Mary by Protestant dissidents, Queen Mary sent an estimated 283 of her opponents to be burned at the stake and had her rival for the throne Lady Jane Grey beheaded. Not to be undone, when her sister Elizabeth I came to power, she ordered 130 Catholic priests and an estimated 60 lay persons concremated. It may be that Elizabeth deserved the moniker “bloody” every bit as much as her sister Mary.

The question of whether a world ruled by women would be a kinder, more gentle place than one ruled by men hangs in the balance. The British historian Lord Acton observed, “All power tends to corrupt; absolute  power absolutely,” and then adds, “Great men are almost always bad men.”

The same can be said of great women, such as Elizabeth and Mary.

In 2021, a female trophy hunter named Van Der Merwe killed an aging giraffe and cut the unfortunate creature’s heart out for Valentines Day. She boasts that she has killed perhaps 500 animals in her bloody quest, including elephants and lions. She held the giraffe’s heart up to the cameras in order to taunt the animal rights lobby, people she refers to scornfully as the Mafia. Good men and bad men/good women and bad women.

Perhaps a world ruled by women would be a kinder, more sensitive place. Marginally. Personally, I’ll take what I can get.

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Lorin Swinehart
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