May 25, 2015

Quote of the Month & Starting to Show Up Everywhere


“A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young. It was the first progressive generation – the first generation that believed in progress and nothing else…. [They believed] simply that the new thing is always better than the old thing; that the young man is always right and the old wrong. And now that they are old men themselves, they have naturally nothing whatever to say or do. Their only business in life was to be the rising generation knocking at the door. Now that they have got into the house, and have been accorded the seat of honour by the hearth, they have completely forgotten why they wanted to come in. The aged younger generation never knew why it knocked at the door; and the truth is that it only knocked at the door because it was shut. It had nothing to say; it had no message; it had no convictions to impart to anybody…. The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young, and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years.”

- G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News of July 9, 1921

Via [The Anchoress: 85 Years Ago, Chesterton nailed the Boomers]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 25, 2015 9:01 PM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I was born in 1946, makes me a Boomer. Uh, physically that is. My mindset is more like the '50s, Eisenhower Kids I call 'em.
As Chesterton describes exactly how any generation acts (I was surprised after I got to the end, I thought the essay was talking about the Boomers) I can look back at past generations, all the way to the Pyramids I reckon, and see the pattern. People are people.

I use a simpler metaphor since I'm not such a good writer. I write a lot but not very well.
Each generation starts rocking the boat until they get in it. Then they want the rocking to stop.

I found his description of the nihilism interesting. I'm not sure it applies to all the past generations.
The ones that went through WWII, the "Greatest Generation" I think they had some clear goals, shrug.
Now we are floundering. A rudderless ship. Making choices by what we don't want is not good strategy.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 26, 2015 6:41 AM

chas - In the '50s-60s I flew a lot with a whole bunch of "Greatest Generation" souls, and dealt with a lot of them on the ground. The ones I flew and dealt with just wanted to complete the job at hand, try to survive it, and move on. I don't think they would have recognized a goal if one had bit them on the ass, unless you call doing your job and moving on a goal. That's what they taught me, and it's served me well so far.

Posted by: BillH at May 26, 2015 7:09 AM

Bill: yes, I see the distinction. The old vets I've talked with had that attitude — "What? What? I went over there, did the job, came home. That's it."
I was trying to show "doing the right thing" and I looked at the results after, not the motivations going in.
I worked as an electrician for a number of years and sometimes we'd get into a hundred year old house that the client was renovating.
When we peeled away the plaster we could see perfect wood cuts and fits that the guys back then knew would never be seen.
I imagine remarking to one of them "wow, what nice fitting on that door frame" and the guy goes "Huh? Oh, we let the apprentices do those" because the quality level that was accepted as normal no big deal was zero defects.
Use that as a metaphor for what we have now: the men and women in the past routinely did the right thing.
These days, morals, truth, faith, patriotism all are at the cheap & cheery Walmart level.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 26, 2015 8:03 AM

Wow, Chas, the people you describe sound a lot like my uncles, particularly Uncle Bob. He was with the Marines on Okinawa, came back and became a bricklayer and carpenter like his dad (on a side note Dad was with the Army in Normandy; it's a miracle I even exist today, but that's another story). When Uncle Bob did his work everything had to be perfect down to the tiniest detail. As a kid I'd say, 'but Uncle Bob, nobody will know if it's not perfect because it's out of sight and he would very sternly reply, 'I'll know'. He took enormous pride in knowing everything was done just right.

Posted by: D S Craft at May 26, 2015 11:01 AM

D S: a lot of the earlier generations had high standards as normal every day values. Good on your uncle and others like him.
My dad was the same, held himself to a high standard and passed it down to me.
When I slip, take a short cut or do just a "good enough" job I feel him shake his head, you know better he mutters up there in Heaven.
When we remark on the fabric of society coming unraveled it's that we are lowering our standards rather than making an effort to live up to a higher standard.

Doing the Right Thing and Doing the Thing Right.
This simple aphorism is met with ridicule these days.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 26, 2015 12:31 PM

Good stuff Chas. I was born in 55 so I seen some of what you say. My dad was a home builder in PA and was cut from the same template you mentioned and tried to instill it in his kids and did so to a certain degree. It gets watered down with each generation I suppose, until it stops.

Went to the big city this morning and on the way back my wife and I stopped at Taco Bell. When we got to the door we saw a sign: "Closed due to help not showing up". We went across the road to Arby's, same thing, same kind of sign. WTF? Down the road a block the KFC was boarded up. Good help is almost impossible to find, and has been for a long time now. A country slammed with braindead lazy asses. You know the rest of this story.

Posted by: ghostsniper at May 26, 2015 6:50 PM

Thank you all, above, for the wake-up call, on how to live a life honorably, and why.
From Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale discussing and quoting Epictetus, "Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to the will; and say this to yourself with everything that happens. For you will find it to be an impediment to something else, but not truly to yourself."
And Stockdale contnues, "... your good and your evil are the essence of you. You are moral purpose. You are rational will..."

Posted by: Howard Nelson at May 29, 2015 4:16 PM