A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"How to Help Our Fellows"

[Excerpts from an article called "How to Help Our Fellows" which was republished in the Kalgoorlie Miner, January 29, 1907]

If we want to help our fellows, there is one broad necessity which seems to come before anything else, and that is that we should recognise that they are our fellows. This is not recognised in the modern world; probably on the whole it is less recognised than it has ever been before; probably it is less recognised than it was in many slave holding States. That I recognise a man is my fellow does not mean that I recognise that he is to be pitied, or that his condition should be improved for the sake of posterity, or that in my particular politics it is arranged that he shall have a vote. It means that I have fellowship with him. It means that I can say to him naturally and with social sincerity "my dear fellow." Pity is not fellowship. Philanthropy is not fellowship. Social reform is not fellowship. I pity a wounded rabbit; but I have no fellowship with him. I should like to improve a mad elephant, but I am not so hypocritical as to pretend that I wish to drink and sing and talk through the night and tell all my secrets to a mad elephant. I feel philanthropic towards a wounded worm, but I never feel an impulse to slap him on the back and say "my dear fellow." Now the trouble with the whole modern world is that this fundamental faculty of fellowship, of being able to live with all kinds of men, and talk with all kinds of men, has probably never been at a lower ebb than it is to-day. It is quite possible that there is more compassion than there ever was. It is quite certain that there is less fellowship than there ever was. [...]

Before all discussion, therefore, on the right way of thinking about the poor, this is the first thing to be registered; that we are thinking about the poor. In a real democracy it would be the poor who would be thinking about us. That scientific solemnity with which we speak of the poor; that air of an abstract argument which is not likely to be interrupted; that secure and placid discussion of the poor  [...] all this means first and last, the entire absence of fellowship.[...]

Now public institutions are very righteous things upon this assumption always, that they are really public. The trouble with most of these things in the modern world is that they are not in the proper sense public: they do not represent the whole or the great preponderance of the community [...] And it must be remembered that the case is definitely worse than it was in times less formally democratic. Then the leaders of the people may have had an unjust preponderance, but they were leaders of the people in so far that they were like the people. The populace may have had a small part to play compared with the aristocrats, but what part they played was sincerely and spontaneously with the aristocrats. But the life and energy in our modern institutes is all definitely against the actual popular feeling.[...]

 I am not saying that [the poor man] is right, but I am saying that it is highly undemocratic to assume that he is wrong. And the modern world does assume that he is wrong; it assumes that he is wrong because he is ignorant. That is, it assumes that he is wrong because he is poor. That is, it assumes that he is wrong because he is the majority of mankind.

Therefore, while I, like everybody else, have my own notions of an ideal society, and what I should do for the poor, I am quite convinced that the first step of all is to cultivate fellowship, not as a political but as a psychological condition. Let the modern world get over its present violent and inexpugnable prejudice against all the opinions of the poor [...] let us take these views as the serious opinions of our fellows, of those who are our equals in essentials, our inferiors in certain forms of study, our superiors in many forms of experience. Let us consider whether it is really only they who are ignorant of science [...] Let us in a word, if we wish to do good to our fellows, cultivate intellectual fellowship, or if we cannot do this there is one further piece of advice I can offer. Let you and I and the rest of the idealistic middle-class suddenly stop talking. And in the awful silence which follows let us listen to what the charwoman in the Walworth-road really has to say.

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