(Reader: A Fellow Patriot) Pessimists and Optimists, Fr. Dwight Longenecker


Reader Post | By A Fellow Patriot

Pessimists and Optimists – one perspective

When men have come to the edge of a precipice, it is the lover of life who has the spirit to leap backwards, and only the pessimist who continues to believe in progress. – G. K. Chesterton

“Chesterton rejected optimism and pessimism because he found both to be expressions of a fatalistic approach to life, which he believed was a story to be lived rather than a plan to be unfolded.

Optimism, Chesterton contended, encouraged a kind of dangerous complacency. Why bother working toward some good end or goal when at base one believes that everything is going to turn out fine anyway? And pessimism? In its own perverse way, Chesterton thought it encouraged a kind of complacency all its own. Why bother trying to stop some bad end or some evil act when everything is going to turn out badly anyway?

However, Chesterton did think there was one telling difference between optimists and pessimists. The optimist thought everything was good about the world—except the pessimist; the pessimist thought everything was bad about the world—except himself.

Of course, it’s possible that Chesterton was a closet optimist of sorts. After all, he did think that the world in which we live is essentially a “good universe.” Progressives, on the other hand, see it as a “bad universe,” but one that surely could be made good with just the right touch. Chesterton dissented from such a point of view; this would still be a good universe, even if it got much worse instead of better.

Good, bad, or worse, this universe would always be one in which people would be free to exercise their free will to make it good, bad, or worse. As you might expect, Chesterton had his own unique way of making his major point about this unique feature of man, namely his free will. Yes, human beings are free to choose, whether that means being free to choose to do the wrong thing or the right thing.

Before exploring Chesterton’s unique way, let’s stay with this matter of right or wrong for a moment. In Chesterton’s universe there were such things as rights and wrongs. What is right is right, he contended, even if at the moment no one is right about it. And what is wrong is wrong, even if at the moment everyone is wrong about it.”

“But there is a way of despising the dandelion which is not that of the dreary pessimist, but of the more offensive optimist. It can be done in various ways; one of which is saying, “You can get much better dandelions at Selfridge’s,” or “You can get much cheaper dandelions at Woolworth’s.” Another way is to observe with a casual drawl, “Of course nobody but Gamboli in Vienna really understands dandelions,” or saying that nobody would put up with the old-fashioned dandelion since the super-dandelion has been grown in the Frankfurt Palm Garden; or merely sneering at the stinginess of providing dandelions, when all the best hostesses give you an orchid for your buttonhole and a bouquet of rare exotics to take away with you. These are all methods of undervaluing the thing by comparison; for it is not familiarity but comparison that breeds contempt. And all such captious comparisons are ultimately based on the strange and staggering heresy that a human being has a right to dandelions; that in some extraordinary fashion we can demand the very pick of all the dandelions in the garden of Paradise; that we owe no thanks for them at all and need feel no wonder at them at all; and above all no wonder at being thought worthy to receive them. Instead of saying, like the old religious poet, “What is man that Thou carest for him, or the son of man that Thou regardest him?” we are to say like the discontented cabman, “What’s this?” or like the bad-tempered Major in the club, “Is this a chop fit for a gentleman?” Now I not only dislike this attitude quite as much as the Swinburnian pessimistic attitude, but I think it comes to very much the same thing; to the actual loss of appetite for the chop or the dish of dandelion-tea. And the name of it is Presumption and the name of its twin brother is Despair. This is the principle I was maintaining when I seemed an optimist to Mr. Max Beerbohm; and this is the principle I am still maintaining when I should undoubtedly seem a pessimist to Mr. Gordon Selfridge. The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.” ― G.K. Chesterton, The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton

Fr. Dwight Longenecker – HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL

“What is most disturbing, however, is something I suspected for some time. Malachi Martin talks about those who are “perfectly possessed.” In other words the demonic possession is complete. These people no longer exhibit the preternatural signs and beastly manifestations and revulsion at the crucifix, a priest or the Eucharist. They are able to outwardly practice their Catholic religion, but inwardly they have given themselves completely to Satan.”

These individuals may be functioning (on the outward level) perfectly adequately as Catholics–even priests, bishops and religious–but they are Sons of Satan. These are the ones who subvert the faith and turn the faithful to the darkness while appearing, on the outside, as angels of light. The writers of the New Testament were well aware of these false teachers. St Paul warns about them. St John calls them beasts and the anti-Christ.


From a Fellow Patriot


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