Sunday, March 29, 2015

G.K. Chesterton: The Most Freeing Person I have ever known!

What's Wrong with the World
Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) 
(2012-05-12). Kindle Edition.

"Now the whole parable and purpose of these last pages, and indeed of all these pages, is this: to assert that we must instantly begin all over again, and begin at the other end. I begin with a little girl's hair. That I know is a good thing at any rate. Whatever else is evil, the pride of a good mother in the beauty of her daughter is good. It is one of those adamantine tendernesses which are the touchstones of every age and race. If other things are against it, other things must go down. If landlords and laws and sciences are against it, landlords and laws and sciences must go down. With the red hair of one she-urchin in the gutter I will set fire to all modern civilization. Because a girl should have long hair, she should have clean hair; because she should have clean hair, she should not have an unclean home: because she should not have an unclean home, she should have a free and leisured mother; because she should have a free mother, she should not have an usurious landlord; because there should not be an usurious landlord, there should be a redistribution of property; because there should be a redistribution of property, there shall be a revolution. That little urchin with the gold-red hair, whom I have just watched toddling past my house, she shall not be lopped and lamed and altered; her hair shall not be cut short like a convict's; no, all the kingdoms of the earth shall be hacked about and mutilated to suit her. She is the human and sacred image; all around her the social fabric shall sway and split and fall; the pillars of society shall be shaken, and the roofs of ages come rushing down, and not one hair of her head shall be harmed."  (pp. 282-283).

Normally, I read G.K. Chesterton for pleasure, for fun. He's terribly witty and the most wholesome type of entertainment. This little book came my way free of charge on Kindle, but I would not have begrudged paying for it. It is truly a find. Not everyone is convinced that our world would be better with the kind of distributivism which Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc were so keen on promoting. Take and read this book, not for the arguments pointing to distributivism, but for its profound anthropology. Chesterton argues radical social change for the sake of the human person. You might come up with very different conclusions concerning how to better society, but you'll find no better illustration or icon representing the human family. 

Chesterton is marvelously encouraging about the possibility of bringing home the victory and making things, not only better, but right:

"We often read nowadays of the valor or audacity with which some rebel attacks a hoary tyranny or an antiquated superstition. There is not really any courage at all in attacking hoary or antiquated things, any more than in offering to fight one's grandmother. The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers. The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as much free from the future as from the past. He cares as little for what will be as for what has been; he cares only for what ought to be. And for my present purpose I specially insist on this abstract independence. If I am to discuss what is wrong, one of the first things that are wrong is this: the deep and silent modern assumption that past things have become impossible. There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, "You can't put the clock back." The simple and obvious answer is "You can." A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour. In the same way society, being a piece of human construction, can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed." (pp. 32-33).

Relativism probably has no greater enemy than Chesterton and we have a great ally to cheer us on in our struggle to restore culture, Catholic Culture, please!

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