One had a sense of being overwhelmed at the beginning of a project. She was always starting from scratch, and there was always the chance that, this time, she wouldn’t be able to understand, that something would simply be beyond her.
Sofia straightened her back.
I am Mendes, she thought. Nothing is beyond me. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
It was predictable, in hindsight. Everything about the history of the Society of Jesus bespoke deft and efficient action, exploration and research. During what Europeans were pleased to call the Age of Discovery, Jesuit priests were never more than a year or two behind the men who made initial contact with previously unknown peoples; indeed, Jesuits were often the vanguard of exploration.
The United Nations required years to come to a decision that the Society of Jesus reached in ten days. In New York, diplomats debated long and hard, with many recesses and tablings of the issue, whether and why human resources should be expended in an attempt to contact the world that would become known as Rakhat when there were so many pressing needs on Earth. In Rome, the questions were not whether or why but how soon the mission could be attempted and whom to send.
The Society asked leave of no temporal government. It acted on its own principles, with its own assets, on Papal authority. The mission to Rakhat was undertaken not so much secretly as privately—a fine distinction but one which the Society felt no compulsion to explain or justify when the news broke several years later.
The Jesuit scientists went to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God’s other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the furthest frontiers of human exploration. They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God.
They meant no harm. Mary Doria Russell, prologue to The Sparrow
Thinking about that quote I just reblogged and also and forever thinking about that quote from The House on Mango Street. Thinking about how my grandparents are always taking money from their special funeral fund to give to my mother, my sister and I, because neither of us fuckups seem to be able to take care of ourselves. Thinking about how life is when you’re poor and you happen to be the “successful” one in your family. How you carry them with you always, how they carry you with them too, because it’s not like you have a choice. Thinking about how if I get that contract I was hoping to get I can pay for my mother to get her dog to the vet to have his tumour removed, because this is where we are right now. And how if I ever get to that dream job, in ten years if I’m lucky, I might get to travel, and I might be justified in the eyes of all those who said I would go on to do great things, but most of all I might make so much money that no one in my family will ever have to worry about being buried in a pauper’s grave or let their dog die because they can’t afford to pay the vet.
When I was sixteen I was going out with a guy from my school who sung in a band, and I made his life so miserable that he actually wrote (and later recorded) a song about it. A guy wrote a song about what a terrible person I am. I’ve been thinking about this often lately.