This Fathers’ Day past, I woke up remembering something about my dad. I would be walking with him on the street (I grew up in Manhattan), in the middle of a conversation, and he’d suddenly be gone. . . and appear at my other side. It used to kind of annoy me. But he explained that it was what men do, to protect women; a chivalrous habit left over from the days when carriages in the street might fling mud and sewage towards passersby.
As a teenager in the 1970’s, this kind of thing was confusing.
Like men opening doors.
I’d assert that I was perfectly capable, thank you very much, of opening doors, and reach for them. But my dad insisted on opening them for me.
I thought it was old-fashioned: on the other hand, if a man just strode ahead and let a door close in my face (or didn’t offer to pay for a meal on a date) I’d grumble about chivalry being dead.
In addition to courage, loyalty, and gallantry toward women, chivalry requires a disposition to protect the weak.
My 25-year-old son is on the autism spectrum.
For the last two years he has been going through something mystifying and painful —regression, autistic catatonia, severe OCD — we are not sure.
One thing clear is that depression is a key factor.
Some offered advice: Perhaps he would be happier in a group home, with peers?
Thank God we didn’t get further in that conversation.
We might have lost him. N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s disastrous failure to protect the elderly in nursing homes is rightly a top news story. Less publicized is that the same deadly policies also put the disabled in residential facilities and their caregivers in grave danger.
An April 10 "advisory" from the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities stated that, "No individual shall be denied re-admission or admission to a Certified Residential Facility based solely on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19." And that “providers of Certified Residential Facilities are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized individual, who is determined medically stable, to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission."
Now, this was supposed to be contingent on the facilities having adequate staffing and equipment, however, according to a complaint filed by the federal watchdog group, Disability Rights New York, congregate settings were not "designated as priority recipients of PPE." With inadequate supplies, and with no way to safely isolate those "medically stable" but still contagious persons returning to the facilities, the death count of the disabled and their caregivers began to rise.
Which brings me to masks and men. Gov. Cuomo has proudly sported a mask, and has signed an executive order requiring them of New Yorkers, to protect others. Yet he has failed — spectacularly — to defend the vulnerable — no protection from womb (he championed New York's radical abortion law) to tomb.
On the opposite side of the political spectrum, President Trump and many of his supporters refuse to wear masks. Though masks were given to each attendee at the Tulsa rally Saturday night, in the crowd behind the president on TV there was hardly a mask in sight.
On an Instagram post I viewed, new parents brought a three-week old baby to the rally; notably absent were any face coverings. I remember wearing a face mask when I first cuddled my tiny premature baby nieces, to keep them safe.
A newborn at a political rally? I wonder what that father was thinking?
I admire men like my husband, who wears a mask when dropping off groceries for his 96-year-old father. My father-in-law lives near New Rochelle, the first epicenter of contagion, and early on he let us know he would be self-isolating. He is no alarmist, but he is an M.D., and he knew to take COVID-19 seriously, because he loves life.
And we love him. We would never knowingly put him at risk.
I guess that is what it comes down to. Love one another. It is courageous and honorable to lay down or risk your life for another. But there is nothing loving — or chivalrous — about putting others at risk.
Maria McFadden Maffucci is the editor in chief of the Human Life Review (www.humanlifereview.com), a quarterly journal devoted to the defense of human life, founded in 1974 by her father, James P. McFadden, Associate Publisher of National Review. She is President of the Human Life Foundation, based in midtown Manhattan, which publishes the Review and supports pregnancy resource centers. Mrs. Maffucci's articles and editorials have appeared in the Human Life Review, First Things, National Review Online, National Review, Verily. A Holy Cross graduate with a BA in Philosophy, she is married to Robert E. Maffucci, and the mother of three children. Her interests include exploring opportunities for individuals with special needs. Read Maria McFadden Maffucci's Reports — More Here.
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