FROM C.S. LEWIS, A QUOTE TO PONDER ON GOOD AND EVIL IN THESE MODERN DAYS

A remarkable quote from C.S. Lewis, the author of many remarkable quotes that never seem to get old or lack current veracity in the real world — even a hundred years after their original publication:

“To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism (Meaning: baseness, dishonesty, double-dealing) will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colors…. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink or a cup of coffee, disguised as a triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still–just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naive or a prig–the hint will come. It will be the hint of something, which is not quite in accordance with the technical rules of fair play, something that the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand. Something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about, but something, says your new friend, which “we”– and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure–something “we always do.” And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face–that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face–turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude: it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.” — C. S. Lewis. The Inner Ring (1944)

The worst of the worst do not come to us as blatantly evil, but as complainers, whiners, malcontents. They come as wealthy people, offering us a place at their table and they wear down our rejection of their values with endless lies, half-lies, and untruths. After a while, it all fades into something vague that you are too tired to reject. This is what I see today. That the ugliness of Trump has become mundane and banal. His wickedness is “normalizing.” We are exhausted. Many of us feel as if there is nothing more to say because we’ve said it before as have so many others. This normalization will destroy us and our world.

I’ve gotten into trouble before trying to talk about good and evil. We aren’t supposed to categorize things as evil or good. We are supposed to find psychological justification, logical explanations. We have to spin lies and make them into “sound bites.” Instead of saying this is evil, we say “Oh, it’s just politics.” Thus evil no longer has value or validity — nor good, either.

Finally, from T.S. Elliott, probably the most quoted lines from his poems  — and this is just the final stanza from “The Hollow Men”:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Who has a conscience? Who cannot normalize the cruelty, bigotry, and evil of “our leader”? Are we now going to fade into fascism because we are too exhausted to vote?



Categories: corruption, good-and-evil, Government, Oppressionn, perspective, President, right and wrong, Voting

Tags: , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. Wow.

    I love how you apply this to the scoundrel you hate, but not to the scoundrels you love.

    Like

    • Oh, but I DO apply it to those I love and frankly, that is the most terrifying part of this. We are so beaten down by the evil around us that we are willing to settle for anything even a little better, even if in the long run, it’s not much of an improvement.

      In a world where good and evil are ignored because “nothing is black and white” (which is NOT true and never was), how do you choose? We seem to be caught between bad and worse, worst and worst. Good gets buried because you can’t get politicians to vote for the right thing because it IS the right thing. It also has to meet their personal agendas and of course, not cost too much money.

      We want good. We just don’t want to pay the price for it. We slouch along, (for example) letting pharma get away with gouging us for medication for which we pay 10 times more than Canadians pay — for the SAME DRUG. We languish in a complicated, unjust, unreasonable, and wildly expensive medical system that makes basic care more costly than many people can manage. We think it’s okay because everyone should “take care of themselves.” That may (or may not) be true for healthy, active 25 year olds. What about children? Old people? Handicapped folks? Veterans? Those with mental illnesses? Are they supposed to also bootstrap themselves into health? Aren’t we supposed to be — as human beings — taking care of the poor and needy? Doesn’t your god require this of you? Mine does.

      Many people feel this attitude is fine until a day comes and the sword falls on them, their child, mother, father, spouse. Suddenly, they want help. They don’t care WHERE it comes from. The hypocrisy of this takes my breath away.

      C. S. Lewis was a Church of England theologian who was — even among strict interpreters of Christianity — one of the strictest. He wrote a lot of books and I have read more than half of them. Eventually, I’ll read the rest should I live long enough. He believed in right and wrong, in good and evil. So do I. For everyone, including me.

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  2. I suspect the voices of reason (now muted and tired) WILL attempt calling out the evil that is here right now, but my question remains “Who is LISTENING?” That is the most discouraging part to me, is the lack of horror at the fact that we have such a nasty creature ‘leading’ our country. The acceptance of such vileness. We aren’t alone in having substandard ‘leaders’ either – other countries are experiencing the same phenomenon. Maybe it’s just time for God to do His bit and wipe this world off the slate and start over. It seems, from those who believe in prophecy, that those end times have come to pass. Just how long til that occurs, is the question now.

    Like

  3. The way things tend to work is that we can see a lot more clearly the “evil” of the other side. It’s the “good side” we support that we never see the evil in because… well…at least it’s better than what they’re doing! You even get people murdering people and feeling righteous because “They were evil.”

    I agree with CS Lewis. It’s so easy to go along with, to compromise my own beliefs, rather than to disagree with a forceful person and risk a frown, or being put down. Pride wins; integrity loses.

    Like

  4. I set it to reblog at 8 a.m. tomorrow.

    Like

  5. Reblogged this on lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown and commented:
    If you only read one thing today, read this–a reblog of an exceptional and scary blog by Marilyn Armstrong.

    Like

  6. Wow! Quite a post. I must reblog, but will set it for a few hours from now or tomorrow morning so different readers will see it. This is exceptional, Marilyn.

    Like

  7. “This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper.” All in all, a very scary concept!

    Like

  8. exactly. perfect choices

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  9. I was thinking of those T.S. Elliot’s lines just the other day. I have been so frustrated by the by silence of the Senate, of the so-called “good men” and of the wealthy, influential Democrats who could speak out and fight back. Where are they? Trump has 35% of the voters. The other 65% better get themselves to the polls and be heard. I know he’ll try to “fix” the voting somehow. This is an evil, evil man, the “beast that slouched toward Bethlehem to be born.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it weird how the poems of the 19th century become great truths in the 21st. We need to stop making excuses and call out evil as what it is. Wickedness. Cruel and despicable behavior. The best that slouched toward Bethlehem was born and lives in the White House.

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. Scoundrelism – Word of the Day Challenge
  2. Scoundrelism | sparksfromacombustiblemind

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