Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ends and Means

After attending perhaps one of the coolest Masses ever followed by Exposition and Adoration, you might not think that the day could get better.

Well, it did, not that what follows is in any way better or more important than what went before.

I was walking through Trastevere with a fellow architecture student and we passed a bookshop that sold books in english. We did a double take and went in. The first book I picked up was "Ends and Means" by Aldous Huxley. I opened the book and the first page I opened to was Chapter X. Let me quote:

"Chapter X: Individual Work for Reform"

Let's just stop there. I read it and suddenly got really excited. This was a book after my own heart. Let me continue:

"We have seen that the only effective methods for carrying out large-scale social reforms are non-violent methods. Violence produces only the results of violence and the attempt to impose reforms by violent methods is therefore foredoomed to failure. The only cases in which violent methods succeed are those where initial violence is rapidly followed by compensatory acts of justice, humaneness, sympathetic understanding and the like. This being so, mere common sense demands that we shall begin with non-violence and not run the risk of stultifying the whole process of reform by using violence, even as an initial measure."

I realized after reading this that I agreed with what he said and that he said it with an eloquence which I admired. These are exactly my thoughts and I said "I wrote this book." My friend corrected me saying "No, he wrote the book just for you." And I believe it's true. Further proof:

"In communities ruled by hereditary monarchs it has sometime happened that an exceptionally enlightened king has tried to make reforms which, though intrinsically desirable, did not happen to be desired by the mass of his people. Akhnaton's is a case in point. Such efforts at reform made by rulers too far advances to be understood by their subjects are likely to meet with partial or complete failure.
In countries where rulers are chosen by popular vote there is no likelihood that startlingly novel and unacceptable reforms will be initiated by the central authority. In such countries the movement for reform must always start at the periphery and move toward the centre. Private individuals, either alone or in groups, must formulate the idea of reform and must popularize it among the masses. When it has become sufficiently popular, it can be incorporated into the legislation of the community."

He then goes on to talk about war and the militaristic mindset. I of course must read this book in its entirety, but I know I will enjoy it.

In any case, he seems to agree with C.S. Lewis that the most important political act is evangelization, or in other words, we must change the hearts of the people before we change the law.

How are we doing?


Robert Gotcher said...

There was an awful lot of whacking the bad guys in That Hideous Strength.

N.W. Thomas said...

True. Well, there was also a lot of demonic possession going around.

Not that I'm a strict pacifist, but in reference to my last post, America is rather militaristic in its "spreading of democracy" which really means the spreading of the idea of the Middle Man.