Monday, January 25, 2010

People First

This morning I was meditating on Chesterton and Shaw and eugenics and politics and right and wrong and good and evil, and my mind was all over the place.

And after thinking about how Shaw and Stalin and Hitler and Sanger were eugenicists, and wondering how in the world Chesterton could have remained friends with Shaw knowing this awful thing about him.

And I think Chesterton's secret is that he could always see people as people first.

I mean that he could see through all the layers of labels. Conservative, liberal, pessimist, optimist, socialist, republican, Marxist, vegetarian, etc. He saw under all that to the person themselves.

And so he could deal with people as people first, and not as a label.

I think our country has moved more and more towards labeling, don't you think? It's so easy to stick a label on someone, and think we know all about them then, and how they think and who they are. It safely puts people in a category, in a box, on a shelf where we don't have to deal with them as people. And then we don't have conversations because they're [fill in the blank] protestant, or liberal, or progressive, or ultraconservative, or Catholic, or a Fabian, or an environmentalist, or whatever, and we couldn't possible converse with someone like that because we aren't like that.

Chesterton saw under that and could converse with anyone because he saw them as people first, a human like himself, and so he connected on a very elemental level with anyone and everyone.

I think we need to learn from that secret of his, so we can re-connect with humanity. The humanity in our own families first, then our neighbors, and certainly our community leaders.

Let's take up this challenge and see if we can live this way.


  1. I'm happy to be warm and friendly towards liberals, progressives, eugenicists, Nazis, communists and scientologists.

    But the French....

  2. Hey, I'm French--Carpentier, Sauve, Archambault, Pelltier and Delage are my relatives--and I dare say you like me. ;-)

    But then, I am a very Americanized Frenchman, and only American after 400 years in "New France" (Quebec).

  3. Well, I DID like you, until I found out...

    Only kidding, of course! I dislike the French as much as Dr. Johnson really disdained Scotland.

    (I should have said the Welsh.)

  4. Funny, I've been thinking along these exact same lines since I caught a segment on Glen Beck, with some rather haunting video of Shaw discussing his philosophy and the amount of people he would like to kill. When they mentioned that the idea of gas chambers and death camps came not from the Germans, but from the British intellectuals and that the Germans merely perfected them, I was hoping they would mention the one lone voice of Mr. Chesterton who spoke out against them, but alas they did not.

  5. Here's the link to the chilling clip of Shaw discussing eugenics (clip #2)

  6. Hey Nancy, the new issue of Gilbert! just arrived in my mail box, and I was wondering if anyone else had the same problem as I did: several crucial pages are completely blank! The "Special Edition of Chesterton's Mail Bag," for instance, which boasts of having a real letter to Chesterton *and* Chesterton's full, witty reply, has only the letter, not his reply. The blank page next to it is staring at me, mocking me....

    HELP.....? *sniffle*

  7. Golly, Lauren, that's awful! I haven't heard yet from anyone else about this. I say, write to Dale and get another copy. info at chesterton dot org will get you to him.


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