The Times had written to several famous authors asking them "What is wrong with the world today?" They received one reply,
Yours, G. K. Chesterton."
This is reported in the American Chesterton Society website, but they also mention they do not have any records to confirm it. The fact is that one hundred years later, people are still talking about Chesterton's reply to The Times, and also talking about his book, whenever anything horrible happens around the world, even though Chesterton would have addressed his book to the 'gentlemen' of England.
I have always loved reading Gilbert Keith Chesterton, and thought of sharing a few gems from his book "What is Wrong with the World" (1910), which he had originally thought of calling, "What is Wrong".
"We all admit that a lazy aristocracy is a bad thing. We should not by any means all admit that an active aristocracy would be a good thing." - The aristocracy he meant a century ago is all dead and gone. Instead the society has produced a more evil, more harmful culture where politicians have taken over. But in this case too, a lazy political culture is less harmful than an active culture, because they would be too greedy, and would be in too much of a hurry, which is always more damaging.
"We all can see national madness; but what is national sanity?" He posed the question. - Today we see national madness all over the world, but humanity has survived so far because it was only a madness and mad people cannot do much harm. But national sanity could annihilate mankind, because sane people are more methodical in their acts of destruction, and can easily wipe off the rest of the people, while destroying themselves.
"Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf." - There may have been statesman during Chesterton's time. But today we have mostly politicians, who try to offer a whole loaf for the people when they beg for their votes, but once they come to power, they enjoy cake, while taking away even the half a loaf the people had.
"I do not object to Socialism because it will revolutionize our commerce, but because it will leave it so horribly the same." he wrote. - Commerce, which began to control agriculture and industry has been the curse of mankind, which means a minority has always exploited the majority, in every field of human activity.
Some truths he has mentioned in "What is Wrong With the World?" stand forever.
"The classes that wash most are those that work least." - The hardworking class cannot afford to worry about his sweat or soiling his hands and clothes with mud and oil and even his own blood, as he continues to toil to earn a morsel of food for his family. It is only the idle, who does not have to sweat except when they exercise, and does not have to touch soil, oil or anything that could contaminate them, but who would always be washing, using soap and disinfectants, all the time.
"Cleverness shall be left for men and wisdom for women. For cleverness kills wisdom; that is one of the few sad and certain things." - Today when some women try to outdo the men in being clever, they too contribute to kill wisdom, because many of them want to show off, or they try to imitate men. Chesterton has much more to say about women.
"The woman does not work because the man tells her to work and she obeys. On the contrary, the woman works because she has told the woman to work and he hasn't obeyed." - Chesterton, knowingly or unknowingly confirms that it was the woman who domesticated man in the beginning.
"...the woman stands for the idea of Sanity; that intellectual home to which the mind must return after every excursion on extravagance.....much of what is called her subservience and even her pliability, is merely the subservience and pliability of a universal remedy; she varies as medicines vary, with the disease. She has to be an optimist to a morbid husband, a salutary pessimist to the happy-go-luck husband......when men wish to be safely impressive, as judges, priests or kings, they do wear skirts, the long, trailing robes of female dignity. The whole world is under petticoat government; for even men wear petticoats when they wish to govern."
"He (man) claims the right to take his Mother nature under his control; he claims the right to make his child the Superman, in his image. Once flinch from this creative authority of man, and the whole courageous raid which we call civilization wavers and falls to pieces."
At the start of the book, Chesterton says, "I have called this book 'What is wrong with the world?' What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right."
However in 2001 Dewitt Jones produced the short film "What is Right With the World" and then he had started a Facebook page, 'Celebratewhatisright', where many people from all over the world have posted photos of what they believe is right in this world. He wanted to show the world how to approach this "with confidence, grace and celebration". The film can be watched online at http://www.commonword.ca/ResourceView/48/17613
That is what we need anyway, after we read Chesterton, to watch the film by Dewitt and begin to think positive, and to look at what is right with the world.