In response to someone who had suggested that Mother Teresas added something to society, someone else pointed out that given Mother Teresa's view that suffering is necessary, “there's a high cost associated with even one Mother Theresa.”
Yes, I think that Mother Teresa was a deeply unpleasant, immoral human being and I can think of no ways in which she added anything to the world, except perhaps as an example of what not to do, how not to live. I find it frightening that so many people – even otherwise sane people – think that she was a good person, or dare not say otherwise. There appears to be a taboo against speaking out against people like Mother Teresa. Perhaps it is the taboo against criticising religious ideas?
Stop reading now if you'll be offended by strong criticism of this “saint”.
Mother Teresa was a conservative Catholic who supported the evil Pope's hard line on abortion, contraception, divorce, women priests, and generally had very bad ideas about women. A woman's highest virtue was to do her duty to the church and her husband – to be a “good” wife and mother and to serve the Catholic church.
She built up and ran an international corporation using slave labour. It was not slave labour in the legal sense, of course, but the psychological reality was precisely that of slave labour. She chose India as her base and got many young girls for her convents. Those young girls/women were not there voluntarily in the psychological sense, they were there because their parents put enormous psychological pressure on them to become nuns. Mother T had a hideously austere set of rules for them, summed up by chastity, obedience and suchlike, and that meant obedience to the church, i.e., her. (One wonders what happened when chastity and obedience came into conflict. I'll bet it was chastity that got sacrificed.)
She got off on playing the part of the ministering angel, and chose to save the souls of the lowest of the low – the people who were dying. The problem is that she was not interested in curing anyone. As Christopher Hitchens has said, an English nurse actually left after Mother Teresa had refused to help a child who would certainly have lived had he had a course of antibiotics. Her response was that it was irrelevant because he was going to meet God anyway! She wasn't interested in the living or potentially living, only the dying, and she was only interested in the dying for her own selfish pleasure in getting off on playing the ministering angel. She wasn't interested in helping them to get better, only to save their souls.
She betrayed the dying too. What she was doing was incompatible with having moral relationships with people. When you develop a relationship with someone, you thereby acquire an obligation to treat that person differently from how you might treat a complete stranger. A parent who has a child adopted at birth does not raise obligations to that child, but a parent who chooses to parent does thereby raise an obligation to the children she chooses to bring up. To the extent that Mother Teresa developed relationships with people in her care, she was acting immorally in not using the available money to treat them where that would have made a difference to whether they live or die, for example.
In her own case, when she got sick, she took herself straight to the best heart specialist in New York. There is nothing wrong with that! It was right for her to spend that money on curing herself, but it was wrong of her not to find a few dollars for a course of antibiotics to save a sick child with whom she had developed a relationship.
The logic of Mother Teresa's organisation was such as not to allow her to spend extra money on helping to cure anyone, let alone improve his or her life – all she did was to minister to the dying. So Mother Teresa was giving the dying the impression that she cared but in fact she didn't. Had she cared, her whole organisation would have collapsed overnight, because when you care about someone, you want to save their lives if you can, even if that means spending less money on ministering to others (whom you do not know). When you have a relationship with someone, it is wrong to betray that person by sacrificing him or her to the idea of “fairness” or “equality” (as in “everyone must suffer equally” – see my editorial in the journal Taking Children Seriously – TCS 23, entitled “Against Sharing Equally”, also published by the Libertarian Alliance – Philosophical Notes 52, 1998, two pages, ISBN 1 85637 431 9). Doing the right thing for those with whom she had a relationship would have reduced the money for ministering to the others, and her whole agenda was to save souls, not help anyone improve their lives (or even live).
She could have had Munchhausen's Syndrome by Proxy or whatever it is called – the thing where the person (nurse, etc) gives herself a role by making people die or nearly die, so she can then play the ministering angel. The only difference between this evil and that of Mother T is that she never had to take any murderous actions because there was a steady supply of dying people, it being Calcutta.
That's another thing – why Calcutta? Why not somewhere even poorer? There are places in Africa that make Calcutta look like a rich place. So why didn't she want to be in those places?
So – my main criticism is that all her relationships with those whose souls she saved, were immoral. She betrayed them. She also did everything she could to oppose the progress in terms of women's place in society.
Criticism welcome! If you would like to comment, email me at sarahfitz-claridge.com.
The Burqa Incident, an article about how I was expelled from the Libertarian Party National Convention room and (allegedly) narrowly escaped spending the night in jail being interrogated by the FBI. Published in the The Laissez Faire Electronic Times, Vol 1, No 23, July 22, 2002.
Transcript of a speech I gave at Frihetsfronten's Summer Seminar near Stockholm, Sweden, August 18th, 2001, Tips for Tyrants Published by the Libertarian Alliance.
Some comments on John Gray's Liberalisms.
Adventures in Quebec City: Diary of a Reluctant Counter Demonstrator Published in Freedom Network News April-June 2001.
For all those children who hate school: Who Wouldn't be ‘School Phobic’?
Appearance, Reality and Education Law: The interesting case of Phillips v Brown. Published by Education Otherwise.
Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2003 Sarah Fitz-Claridge
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