29 August 2007

Remembering, Ten Years On

Ten years ago, the world lost a rare and unique individual who selflessly lived for higher purposes, whose devotion to the care of the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged was one of the highest examples of service to our humanity.

I speak, of course, of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu — better known as Mother Teresa, who died on 5th September 1997. Rather than celebrate her example, however, our media continues to obsess over another death — as the title of a piercing piece in the International Herald Tribune puts it, "Meanwhile: The blind cult of Princess Diana":

Britain's version of Elvis week reaches its crescendo Friday with a memorial service marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales...

Beauty covers a multitude of sins, and Diana, like all of us, had plenty of them. We forgive her multiple affairs and her manipulative tactics because we love her looks. She makes us feel good still. We desire her even in death...

We are prepared to believe lies if they affirm our deepest desire to feel good, if not about ourselves, then about a goddess statue that can be as devoid of spiritual power as the false gods created by pagan peoples.
Citing Germaine Greer's "devastatingly honest essay" in last weekend's Sunday Times, it finishes, "Cults ultimately disappoint, and the Diana cult will, too. Germaine Greer concludes by writing that Diana was a 'desperate woman seeking applause.' No wonder so many still love her, because they are seeking the same thing."

Meanwhile, the work of the Missionaries of Charity and millions of other unassuming humanitarian workers and neighbourly citizens quietly minister to the world's needy — the homeless, the sick, the orphaned, the disabled, and the dying. They give all they have and seek no applause. These are the true celebrities, the saints to whom we ought to be looking for inspiration in this individualistic age.