(a sermon to Princess Diana and others)
I have a photo from the National Geographic on the wall of my office. Engineers are notorious for the lack of curiosity and through ten years of that photo hanging on the wall only two people asked me who was that African girl. In both cases I answered that it was a face. That girl proudly looks at me, full of dignity, posture and natural grace and I know that my degrees, my PhD, my scientific papers, etc mean nothing in our relationship. What counts is who I am, what is my personality, how many good deeds have I done, how many decisions had I made on a free will basis. I have to do a lot of things and she has to do nothing. She has a face already. I have to earn it.
That girl keeps me on my toes. Every time I have a crisis and hate overcomes me, every time I feel like cursing Hindus, Moslems, Blacks or my fellow- white Americans, that girl just looks at me and I come back to my senses: loosing the face is not an option in front of her.
Faces reflect the history. The portrait of Dorian Gray still reflects who you are. Turn off the voice in your TV and look at the faces of our current administration. See the horrible, grotesque expression on the Bush’s face, the vampire smirk of Cheney, the total imbecility on the face of Condi , examine Mr. Chertoff, the Devil reincarnate. In the documentary movie ‘The Ordinary Fascism’ director Romm explained the Nazi theory about ‘proper and improper sculls’. Albert Einstein had an ‘improper scull’ according to that theory together with millions of Jews, Slavs and colored people. Hitler and his henchmen had ‘proper Aryan sculls’. Romm presented a gallery of those degenerates from Hitler down to Hess and Streicher, each looking like a monster out of the Stephen King’s list. The ancient science of phrenology would classify all of them as freaks. But they had power and their faces were on the portraits, on the photos, on the lapels and even on the murals. Millions of people woke up and went to sleep every day with those faces in front of them. The standards were altered, freakishness was proclaimed a beauty and for a long period of time people lost the sense of what it meant to have a face.
I thought about that when I first saw Lady Diana Spencer. She was not a Princess then , just an English school girl not yet fully aware of her beauty and charisma. But she already had a face, That was a face of an independent human being, a wholesome person with the character and style. That shy girl knew what she was and what she wanted. She reminded me of another woman from the tumultuous English History, so different in appearance and yet so similar in impression- Mary, Queen of Scots.
Her husband, Prince Charles had no face. He epitomized (and still does) the main problem of all the males in the British Royal family- they have nothing to do. That’s the primary reason why queens traditionally had been more successful on the British throne since English Revolution than men.. Boys become men through independent decisions but the life of the British Royal is a dependence 100%. That’s why even on their portraits Royal males look like overgrown teenagers. Women do not need that. I hope feminists would not jump on my case if I state that a woman matures by the age of 18 and stays that way no matter what. After than they just learn the rules. If I was a queen I would be indifferent to the tabloid journalists but if I was a King I would get a sniper’s rifle and shoot them one by one. A mature man cannot be a subject of the hunt, no matter what kind of hunting is taking place. The inability of the King to exercise an absolute power is the same as impotence- in both cases you get the squeaky voice and dreary appearance. Just look at Prince Charles. At least his ancestor, Richard III was famous for his prowess with the battle- axe. Charles can only boast that he looks well in kilt.
That sharp contrast between those two was maybe the main underlying cause of the tragedy. In the light of the powerful Diana’s personality Charles looked even more freakish than he was. Such cases are not that infrequent and if a man loves a woman he figures out what to do so that he lets her shine while engaging himself in something useful otherwise. A wise, loving man would be proud of his wife’s humanity and appreciate the challenge of being married to such a unique individual. But Charles was not a wise, loving man. His actions clearly had shown that he was a selfish, self- absorbed boy who was not capable of big feelings and felt uncomfortable everywhere except for the arms of Camilla. Two beautiful boys resembled (and still they do) Diana in appearance so strikingly that Charles could not find redemption even with them. His inferiority could never be seen so clearly. And inferior people can be very cruel.
Diana had a face. She did all she could to retain it and redirect the shining at the people she loved. She took care of her boys so that their faces lit up since early childhood. She wanted them to see people, the whole world, she wanted them to feel their connection to the humanity, not to the cold rooms of the Royal Palace. She wanted her children to grow up mature men, the ones who would never allow the wolves to hunt them. That desire of hers troubled the wolves and they killed her. No, they did not kill her for Dodi or because of her possible pregnancy; they killed her because she was trouble- she showed an alternative way to live, just as Mary, Queen of Scots. It was not the People of England who wanted her head but the powerful English elite which could not tolerate the spirit of independence coming from her.
James, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots became a King of England and Scotland. William, the son of Diana will most likely become a King, inheriting both the spirits of his mother and his grandmother- the two most powerful women of the family. What will become of him? His eyes are like his mother’s but who knows his heart. If I was him I would keep her photo on the wall (and maybe he does) so that she keeps him on his toes. Every time he faces a decision let him look at her, the woman who for all the world personified the sacred strife of every human- life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
We will never forget the level of her effort. It was sublime.