The Parable of the Two Daughters
Once upon a time there was a Mother who had two daughters.
The older daughter felt herself oppressed by her Mother. For although she had dwelt in luxury for many years, she liked things just so and could not rest or think of anybody but herself if a button was out of place or the music she preferred was not just perfect or the art on her walls was not hung perfectly square.
She had a poor younger sister who lived far off in the Amazon jungle and had nothing. This younger sister could barely keep a roof over her head, because one of the many suitors of her older sister, a fascist named Bolsonaro, kept burning her house down and chasing her further into the jungle in his greed for her land.
But the older sister cared nothing about that. She felt oppressed because she could not have everything she wanted, all the time always. Her Mother provided her with rich food and drink, but it was not served by the exact perfect servants with the exact perfect words on the exact perfect trays with the exact perfect music, and this filled her with oppressed fury and resentment at her Mother.
Her younger sister, owing to her remote location and poverty, barely ever got anything to eat or drink at all. The servants of the food could seldom even reach her country and when they could, there were so few of them and they were spread so thin that the younger sister sometimes did not see them for years. She was always deeply grateful when she did see them though and always hoped that the day would come when more would arrive and bring her the food and drink she needed. Meanwhile, she spent her time doing good things for others because she was keenly aware that others needed things more than she did.
The day came when the Mother, at wits end about her selfish older daughter, decided that perhaps what would bring peace would be to give her what she wanted and let her have her meals with all the servants, words, music, and dinnerware just so. But instead of being happy the older daughter only became more dissatisfied and proud. The first servant to try to serve the newly authorized Just So Perfect meal, a man named Jorge, did his best, but did not do it absolutely perfectly, so she screamed at him and called him a Horror because she felt he had spoilt the meal by also touching Jewish food before serving it. (She had a particular loathing for Jewish food and liked to murmur with her friends about it in private.) But her Mother, hoping indulgence would bring peace, continued the experiment with the proviso, “If it does not bring peace to the family, I will try something else.”
Meanwhile, the younger sister in the Amazon continued to struggle for food and drink and tried to do what was best for others. She was humble and grateful and grew in grace and virtue despite having so little.
The older sister went on with her life, getting richer and more powerful and more selfish. She amassed great wealth. She formed business and political ties with Presidents who told her she was oppressed because she could not get the right coffee cups at Christmas. She had expensive dinners with white supremacists in America and Europe who told her she was superior to all the rest of the vermin her Mother foolishly cared about. She went on expensive cruises during Lent because she felt she deserved it what with all she had suffered. She went to lectures explaining how she, not her Mother, was the real Mother of all that was true and good and decent. She diligently dropped two copper coins in the Unborn Children’s Political Action box every month while spending the bulk of her cash on “Stop the Invading Browns” campaigns and “Don’t Let Them Take My Money for the Undeserving Sick” mobilization efforts.
One day, her Mother announced to her that the caretaker Benedict had retired and a new caretaker–the very Jorge the older daughter had spat upon for touching Jewish food–would be his replacement. The older daughter lost her mind with fury. She began a systematic campaign against him, insulting him to anyone who would listen, whispering behind his back and spitting in his face in the street and generally behaving terribly toward him. She called him a dictator. She called him a liar. She called him a Communist. She insisted he was hiring wicked people to steal her Mother’s treasures and destroy her house. She poured out venom on him at every opportunity and urged everybody to do the opposite of what he said. She insisted more and more loudly that she was the only real daughter of her Mother.
Jorge, for his part, could quickly see that it was not a prudent investment of energy to spend too much time trying to please her. And this was all the more true because as he assessed the family holdings it quickly became obvious that the younger daughter needed much more help than she was getting while the older daughter was wrapped up in her riches and possessions, but growing only in selfishness.
The younger daughter was overjoyed. She did not have any money and had few of the luxuries her older sister had. But she was true of heart and loved her Mother and looked forward to the trip. At last the day came when she could go to Jorge’s house and meet with his servants to talk about getting the help she needed. As a gift, she brought a little statue she had made in honor of her Mother’s Mother. It looked like her people as many such gifts did. It was nowhere near as splendid as the great art in her sister’s house, but it was a gift of love in honor the family and Jorge, being a good and wise servant, accepted it in the spirit of love in which it was given.
But the older sister, swollen with haughty rage, would have none of it. She went to her many microphones that blasted her voice out of many speakers in the city and declared her younger sister a bastard and a bitch and demanded she be punished. She broke into the meeting place that night, spat on the statue, and threw it into the river. She stood before many TV cameras and screamed that she alone was the daughter of her Mother and told the younger sister to go to hell. She also shrieked again that Jorge was an evil man for treating her younger sister with respect and pretending she was a member of the family. She made up lies about him and demanded he resign and used her many microphones and cameras to spread them.
Finally, the day came when Jorge talked with the Mother of the two daughters and they agreed, “Enough is enough“. The Mother concluded that the older daughter was, on the whole, worse, not better and that indulging her had been a mistake. She did not cast her out or reject her. She did not even forbid her to have her dinners the way she liked them (though the elder daughter insisted on telling her lackeys, sycophants and slaves that they could not pay honor to good friends of her Mother since she deemed them “demonic”):
Rather, the Mother simply revoked the privileges she had granted her elder daughter for the very good reason that the elder daughters fruits were bad.
The older daughter went off in a fury to surround herself with evil suitors who promised to tell her itching ears what they wanted to hear, which only made her more vengeful and bitter and self-absorbed still. It did not even occur to her to apologize to her sister. Indeed she still wallowed in pride over the way she had treated her, even as she wallowed in pity for herself.
Out of spite, the older sister decided to hold a huge party in honor of herself and her suffering and, just to show everybody who was boss, she spitefully decided not to wear any protections against a great plague that was ravaging the land at that time, nor to take any medicine that would protect her and her suitors, sycophants, lackeys and slaves against the plague. And she invited false prophets to tell her guests that their righteousness would ward off the plague. She felt that this would show the world who was The Best.
As a result, many who came to worship her and her superb dinnerware and exquisite music, and superior art became very sick and some of them died and others spread the plague to innocents who could not take the medicine. But she was proud of herself and cursed the name of caretaker Jorge and worked herself into such a rage at her Mother that she began to wonder if she and her suitors might be able to find a way to kill her Mother and claim all her things for herself. She also blared at the people of the city that they were cruel bullies if they did not hate Jorge and spit on her younger sister too. And the people, tender of heart and confused because most got their news from her lackeys and sycophants, did not want to be cruel bullies and wondered if she was right and whether they had somehow done her evil.
Her Mother was grieved, not because she feared death (against which she was immune), but because her daughter was so proud and unhappy and so tangled and choked with pride and riches and selfishness that she might never find happiness again. So she redoubled her prayers for her and soldiered on, as anguished Mothers have ever done.
Meanwhile, the younger daughter, humble, good, and grateful, welcomed the food, drink, servants and dinnerware she received and grew happier and happier. The Mother was pleased with the work Jorge did and commended him as a good servant. She told the people of the city not to be intimidated by the accusations of the older sister, but to keep doing good and to think first of the younger sister who had little yet thought of others, not of the selfish older sister who had much and thought only of herself. And the hearts and minds of the people of the city were greatly relieved as the older sister lost her power to cow and shame them with her complaints and accusations.