File Under “Some Things Never Change”

16 Mar

G.K. Chesterton, in a 1909 essay titled, “On Lying in Bed”.  An excerpt that is as timely (or more timely) today as it was over 100 years ago.  I picked this up from

Excerpt:  (Bolding is mine; content in brackets [ ] is mine

Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous than the exultation of very small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones, at the expense of eternal ties and tragic human morality. If there is one thing worse than the modern weakening of major morals, it is the modern strengthening of minor morals. Thus it is considered more withering to accuse a man of bad taste than of bad ethics. Cleanliness is not next to godliness nowadays, for cleanliness is made essential and godliness is regarded as an offence. A playwright can attack the institution of marriage so long as he does not misrepresent the manners of society, and I have met Ibsenite pessimists who thought it wrong to take beer but right to take prussic acid [an industrial compound, seriously poisonous to humans]. .  .  .

It is the great peril of our society that all its mechanisms may grow more fixed while its spirit grows more fickle. A man’s minor actions and arrangements ought to be free, flexible, creative; the things that should be unchangeable are his principles, his ideals. But with us the reverse is true; our views change constantly; but our lunch does not change. Now, I should like men to have strong and rooted conceptions, but as for their lunch, let them have it sometimes in the garden, sometimes in bed, sometimes on the roof, sometimes in the top of a tree. Let them argue from the same first principles, but let them do it in a bed, or a boat, or a balloon. This alarming growth of good habits really means a too great emphasis on those virtues which mere custom can ensure, it means too little emphasis on those virtues which custom can never quite ensure, sudden and splendid virtues of inspired pity or of inspired candour.

[End of excerpt]

The fact that this tendency has been around “forever” may explain why it is so easy to succumb to loosened morals, but very difficult to regain true moral high ground.  What do you think?


4 Responses to “File Under “Some Things Never Change””

  1. NEO March 16, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    A wonderful choice here, of course it is difficult to make a bad one with GKC

    • illero March 17, 2013 at 7:50 am #

      Indeed. Thanks for visiting.

  2. justturnright March 25, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Chesterton was awesome.
    We need about a hundred of guys like him right now…but I’d settle for one.

    • illero March 26, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Thanks for visiting and responding. One Chesterton would be good, but in today’s atmosphere of utter idiocy and advancing cultural depravity, I fear that only one Chesterton would be a single lone voice crying in the remote wilderness. As you say, though, better than no voice at all.

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