Doreen, the servant of humanity

Doreen was a very selfless woman and she had devoted her life to the service of others. She was the kind of saintly creature who denied herself every pleasure. No chocolate. No cheese. No dancing. No fun. She was completely dedicated to serving her fellow man. She was an altruist; she lived only for others. For ten long years she had exhausted herself by visiting the poor, the bereaved and the infirm. Often she would visit hardened criminals in prison who lusted after her innocent beauty and displayed crude and offensive behaviour. As a servant of Humanity Doreen became accustomed to suffering and self-sacrifice.

Doreen's deepest desire was to surrender herself to her religion. She was intensely devout but not in the way we normally understand. She was a disciple of the new scientific religion of Humanity that had been inaugurated by the famous Frenchman, Monsieur Auguste Comte who was the self-proclaimed high priest and pontiff of this new faith.

Doreen had become convinced that modern secular science had clearly demonstrated the non-existence of God. In her youth she had been brought up as a pious Catholic but the cold claims of secular scholarship had attacked her one morning and her simple trust in God, the Almighty, was dealt a fatal blow. She picked up her rosary beads and threw them out of the window.

It was with considerable relief that Doreen had embraced the radical teachings of the secular religion of M. Comte. Henceforth Humanity would be her god. Doreen devoted the first hour of her day to acts of prayer and penitence. As a committed atheist, she worshipped Humanity by singing hymns and clapping her hands rhythmically. At times she would be reminded of her sins against Humanity and she would mumble words of remorse and repentance. She was haunted by memories of her negligence and sloth. There had been moments when her sacrifices for Humanity had been half-hearted and malnourished. How many beggars had she short-changed with her indolence? How many prisoners had she failed to serve with that sympathetic and sensitive ear? How many orphans had she neglected? Always ringing in her ears were the words of her Great High Priest – "You have no rights and only duties! You are nothing and Humanity is everything!"

One spring day Doreen had wearied herself serving the criminal working classes, and, as she was returning to her modest abode, was suddenly accosted by a large Doberman-pincher. Snarling and snapping, the hound stared at Doreen with evident malice and then viciously pounced upon the faithful servant of the Great Being. Within minutes the poor girl was unconscious and bloodied.

While recuperating in hospital, Doreen began to reflect upon her lot in life. Instead of serving Humanity, she was now being served by Humanity. Altruistic nurses showered her with affection and kindness. They soothed her fevered brow and listened patiently to her musings. They brought her grapes, chocolate and cheese! Never before had Doreen enjoyed such exquisite sensual pleasures. Altruistic visitors brought her novels and freshly-baked cakes. Never before had she luxuriated in idleness, comfort and inertia.

This blissful and peaceful mode of existence thrilled her to the very core of her being. How wonderful to lounge in bed all day, snoozing, daydreaming and reading shallow, romantic fiction. Cravings for grapes and chocolate were always sated. Self-sacrifice and duty were beginning to fade away.

And then, as Doreen slowly recovered from her wounds, she began ruminating about M. Comte and his religion of humanity. How she had suffered living only for others! Somehow she had ceased to exist in that secular religion. The weeks passed and Doreen became increasingly bitter and cantankerous. She developed a sardonic and sneering demeanour that aroused sadness and chagrin in the nursing community. No longer did she radiate spiritual and saintly virtue but a settled disposition to carp and moan slowly infused her personality. Visitors who arrived with Belgian chocolates were upbraided and admonished. Surely there was something else they could bring! Doreen had heard about salmon and caviar but selfish nurses and self-centred visitors were unwilling to sacrifice themselves for Doreen's emotional well-being!

It is difficult to say exactly when Doreen decided to apostate and reject the religion of Humanity but on the 4th of May, 1889, Doreen had firmly resolved to become a selfish, pleasure-seeking hedonist of the first order. As soon as she was released from the hospital, she adopted sordid, sensual pleasures in fits of frenzied lusting. Drinking brandy and conversing with louche men became her daily vice. Gambling on the horses and greyhounds was embraced with gusto and eventually Doreen became a notorious madam in a high-class Parisian brothel.

One evening, as Doreen reclined salaciously on her chaise longue, surrounded by suave, decadent men, the former servant of Humanity made the following confession.

As a child I used to live for God and I gave that up. And then I lived for Humanity and I gave that up as well. Henceforth I shall live only for myself and if you don't like it, gentlemen, you can put it in your pipes and smoke it.

She laughed coquettishly and drained her glass of champagne.

Add new comment