Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Thought For The Day

Via the quite dry but always thoughtful blog of Jemima Pereira comes this thought for the day, from G. K. Chesterton:
The saying that good men are the same in all religions is profoundly true, if it means that the attitude of doing one's best is the same everywhere. But if it means that they will all do the same thing it is not true; it is not common sense. A man from a distant continent or a remote century may be as good as any of us--self restrained, aspiring, magnanimous, sincere. But we must not complain if he has a slight penchant, let us say, for human sacrifice. It will altogether depend upon the nature of his philosophy. And that is how the case stands at the root of the horrors of the Near East. The Moslems are not without creditable qualities in the least--courage, sobriety, hardiness, hospitality, personal dignity, intense religious belief. These are fine qualities. The thing we will not face is the enormous fact that they have along with all this, not merely from personal sin, but by ingrained, avowed, and convinced philosophy another quality, a total disregard of human life, whether it is their own or other people's. Therefore our civilisation is and must be at war with them, and that war is a religious war, or, if you prefer the term, a philosophical war. We are allowed by the modern mind to call the Moslems en masse thieves, beasts, devils from hell, though it is manifest to common sense that no people can be so entirely composed. The one thing we are not allowed to say against them, the one thing that amid all our curses it would really be thought illiberal to say, is exactly the thing which is really our case against them. Our case against them, that is, is that they both think and act, that they think and therefore act against everything for which we stand.
Written in 1903, and so informed by attitudes some today might find distasteful, but something to think about anyway.

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