What follows is a fascinating quote about society, conservatives versus liberals, written in 1904. So much of it is true is today, over 110 years ago.
“The Institutions of this country, like the Institutions of all other countries, are but half-truths; they are the working daily clothing of the nation; no more the body’s permanent dress than is a baby’s frock. Slowly but surely they wear out, or are outgrown; and in their fashion they are always thirty years at least behind the fashions of those spirits who are concerned with what shall take their place. The conditions that dictate our education, the distribution of our property, our marriage laws, amusements, worship, prisons, and all other things, change imperceptibly from hour to hour; the moulds containing them, being inelastic, do not change, but hold on to the point of bursting, and then are hastily, and often clumsily, enlarge. The ninety desiring peace and comfort for their spirit, the ninety of the well-warmed beds, will have it that the fashions need not change, that morality is fixed, that all is ordered and immutable, that every one will always marry, play, and worship in the way that they themselves are marrying, playing , worshipping. They have no speculation, and they hate with a deep hatred those who speculate with thought. This is the function they were made for. They are the dough and they dislike that yeasty stuff of life which comes and works about in them. The Yeasty Stuff- the other ten- chafe by all things that are, desirous ever of new forms and moulds, hate in their turn the comfortable ninety. Each party has invented for the other the hardest names that it can think of: Philistines, Bourgeois Mrs. Grundy, Rebels, Anarchists, and Ne’er-do-weels.. So we go on! And so, as each of us is born to go his journey, he finds himself in time ranged on one side or the other, and joins the choruses of the name slingers.
But now an then-ah! very seldom-we fin ourselves so near that thing which has no breadth, the middle line, that we can watch them both, and positively smile to see the fun.”
John Galsworthy, The Island Pharisees, 1904
I freely admit I am in the ninety percent he discusses, though in our society it is much less. I do not hate the ten percent but I get violently angry sometimes. The name-slinging is prevalent in our society and sickens me. How can we have civil discourse and attack the policy, not the person? What makes it so difficult is the issues, be it religion, economics, or sexual matters, are so deeply personal. The fact of the matter is there is an ordered and immutable God and some things are non-negotiable if one is to be true to God. However, many of the ninety percent speculate and thoughtfully reach conclusions on what is fixed and what is not. Sometimes they are the yeast in an ever-changing culture.
I read this quote- a beautiful piece of writing- and think “ouch.” Do I gloss over it and move on, because much it denigrates conservatives, or do I recognize it has some merits, even though publicizing it opens me up to ridicule?
I choose the latter. I prefer to expose myself and at least listen to other viewpoints and not hide my head in the sand. How can I know what I believe, or what I am for or against, if I don’t at least know what others are thinking? How can I think someone is wrong but still value them, if I don’t hear their side?
And the middle line, that watches and smiles to see the fun? They decide the outcome of elections.
Quote from John Galsworthy, The Island Pharisees