Saturday, June 09, 2007

Reality is a harsh mistress

Poor Paris Hilton just found out that reality is, well, real.

The saga of this young lady has been splashed all about the media, surely you don't need me to recap it here?

I considered the image of this young woman, blessed with youth, inheritance, social advantage, good looks, and I suppose talent, weeping as she faces punishment for her own actions: she initially broke the law, driving drunk, and endangering the public, then treated the initial, sentence with contempt. In the courtroom, she wanted her parents to rescue her, she prayed, and then screamed and wailed as sentence was decisively given.

And my thought was, here it is: this is a vivid icon, in terms we can all understand, of the clash between wishes and reality. Except it's not a clash: reality always wins.

Often enough, those who point out the hard edges and normative cause-and-effect of reality, when it comes to family, upbringing, personal choices in life, are told they are unsympathetic, lacking in understanding. The more important fact is that many people cannot bear to face the truth, many others do not want to be the ones to point it out, especially when, in order to make it clear, one has to be rather blunt.

It is not for lack of sympathy that I observe -- from my understanding of the facts -- that this young lady pretty much had this coming. And her best course is to see this rough series of events as a true grace, a wake-up call that can spare her even worse heartaches to come.

Why is she crying? Because people are so mean, so uncaring? Or because there came a point when she could no longer be shielded from reality?


Anonymous said...

Amen, Fr. Fox, Amen


Anonymous said...

This experience could be the most valuable and educational one of her life if she can perceive it as the gift it is. Her life has been surreal to this point, but here is a chance for growth and conversion.
I hope she will avail herself of the opportunity and someday be grateful it was given to her.

Bill said...

I was thinking over Paris's situation myself this morning. As a lawyer, I'm glad to see she's being punished - severely - for her contempt for the law. A stiff jail sentence is no less than she deserves.

But as a Christian, I realized that there are (or should be) other concerns at work here - like Annie said, "here is a chance for growth and conversion." Unfortunately, this chance could be lost all too easily if she's treated the way she has treated others throughout her public life. For her, life has been one long stint in what most of us (thankfully) left behind years ago - junior high, with its attendant clothes, boys, and cattiness. In jail, she's stripped of her money, fame, and "posse" - her identity - and is now just another weak, broken, human being. I imagine that, as with so many bullies, she has a poor self-image and relies on tearing down others to make herself feel better.

Given the human tendency toward schadenfreude when the haughty have been brought low, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if she really had been close to a nervous breakdown before the sheriff released her. County jail is not a nice place, and Paris is far out of her depth in dealing with the sorts of people she'll encounter there. Thinking on what she'll have to endure for the next month and a half, I experienced my own conversion of sorts: my contempt for her was replaced by pity.

This girl's soul seems badly cracked. She has been failed by so many - her parents, for raising her to be a spoiled brat; her friends, for reinforcing said brattiness; the sheriff, for letting her think she is still in charge; the judge, for apparently wanting to make an example out of her and refusing to hear her side of the "catch-and-release" saga. Do we need to add ourselves to that list? She needs our prayers, not our mockery.

("Our" in the general sense, not referring to anyone on this blog, of course.)

Eileen said...

Daer Fr. Martin Fox,
Here I logged on to see an inspirational message from Saturdays' homily but what do I find more talk about Paris Hilton. Who really does not deserve any more publicity. I realize what point you were probably trying to make. However, ENOUGH ALL READY.

Will said...

You know what they say:

You can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one gets full first.

mrsdarwin said...

Often enough, those who point out the hard edges and normative cause-and-effect of reality, when it comes to family, upbringing, personal choices in life, are told they are unsympathetic, lacking in understanding.

Ho, that is so true -- especially when you're dealing with a family member...