Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Drawing from CS Lewis’s Well of Wisdom

 

Clive Staples Lewis is one of my favorites. The Chronicles of Narnia books were da bomb as a child (still are) and he’s a frequent font of wisdom as an adult. We could probably fill Quotes of the Day for years and not dry out his wisdom well, so deep and clear is his thinking. Not to worry, I picked just a handful I’ve been pondering during lockdown, interspersed with brief narrative tying them together to fill a few days this month. No need for explanation on the correlation between lockdown extremes and these first two:

The greatest evils in the world will not be carried out by men with guns, but by men in suits sitting behind desks.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

What is evil?

While most would agree Class A Level 1 felonies and people like Stalin/Mao/Hitler/Charles Manson/Ted Bundy are evil, the Book of Proverbs has a short list that covers a lot of ground and is as applicable today as when written.

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes [looking down on others with disdain], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV)

In fact, “every day” malevolent acts abound in modern society.

“What about those things that aren’t this type of evil, but aren’t necessarily good?” you might ask. The tricky nebulous things categorized as necessary evils are at the crux of many current public policy discussions. Often we hear arguments presented as though the only choices available are the “lesser of two evils.” Lewis has a couple of perspicacious cautions:

He (the devil) always sends errors into the world in pairs–pairs of opposites…He relies on your extra dislike of one to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.

And

Do not let us mistake necessary evils for good.

There are unpleasant things that are done or accepted in order to achieve a goal or objective; governments and taxes come to mind, TSA imaging to prevent terror attacks, or social networking insofar as it replaces face-to-face interaction and meaningful relationships with others. Even those necessary evils that are accepted must never become so customary we start to think of them as “good.”

Next up, we’ll take a dip into some C.S. Lewis thoughts on The Good.

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  1. Front Seat Cat Member

    Great message and it never gets old or irrelevant because human nature never changes.

    • #1
    • May 21, 2020, at 6:46 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. Columbo Member

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” … Edmund Burke

    • #2
    • May 21, 2020, at 6:58 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Mim526 Member
    Mim526

    Columbo (View Comment):

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” … Edmund Burke

    I thought of this quote as I was thinking about good vs evil. Started me mulling about what is the evil that good men should defeat. So many terms of evil are thrown around these days that the concept has become weakened, I fear, while at the same time we seem to have become far more accepting of the “necesary evils” as norms.

    • #3
    • May 21, 2020, at 7:21 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. Columbo Member

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” … Edmund Burke

    I thought of this quote as I was thinking about good vs evil. Started me mulling about what is the evil that good men should defeat. So many terms of evil are thrown around these days that the concept has become weakened, I fear, while at the same time we seem to have become far more accepting of the “necesary evils” as norms.

    I like the definition from Proverbs provided in the OP. And I think this one phrase covers it all ….

    ‘a heart that devises wicked plans’

    • #4
    • May 21, 2020, at 7:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Mim526 Member
    Mim526

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” … Edmund Burke

    I thought of this quote as I was thinking about good vs evil. Started me mulling about what is the evil that good men should defeat. So many terms of evil are thrown around these days that the concept has become weakened, I fear, while at the same time we seem to have become far more accepting of the “necesary evils” as norms.

    I like the definition from Proverbs provided in the OP. And I think this one phrase covers it all ….

    ‘a heart that devises wicked plans’

    So do I. There’s alot covered in those short phrases in Proverbs. Part of overcoming something is calling/knowing it by its true name and too much of what is passing for politics, justice, etc. now is wickedness at its core plain and simple. The refusal to call it for what it is — gloss over it or propagate/perpetuate it as something innocuous — also wicked.

    • #5
    • May 21, 2020, at 7:53 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Columbo Member

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” … Edmund Burke

    I thought of this quote as I was thinking about good vs evil. Started me mulling about what is the evil that good men should defeat. So many terms of evil are thrown around these days that the concept has become weakened, I fear, while at the same time we seem to have become far more accepting of the “necesary evils” as norms.

    I like the definition from Proverbs provided in the OP. And I think this one phrase covers it all ….

    ‘a heart that devises wicked plans’

    So do I. There’s alot covered in those short phrases in Proverbs. Part of overcoming something is calling/knowing it by its true name and too much of what is passing for politics, justice, etc. now is wickedness at its core plain and simple. The refusal to call it for what it is — gloss over it or propagate/perpetuate it as something innocuous — also wicked.

    Indeed. ‘Wicked’ is a good word.

    • #6
    • May 21, 2020, at 8:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Arahant Member

    This is the Quote of the Day. If you would like to see the quotations from earlier in the month or what will soon be coming up, go here. If you would like to sign up to share an interesting quotation, our June sign-up sheet awaits you.

    • #7
    • May 21, 2020, at 9:18 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. RightAngles Member

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

    I swear if I hear one more person say “But it’s for our SAFETY!” I will scream. How do they not see it?

    • #8
    • May 24, 2020, at 11:27 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. The Reticulator Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

    I swear if I hear one more person say “But it’s for our SAFETY!” I will scream. How do they not see it?

    An advantage of staying locked down at home: I’ve never heard anyone say that. No telling what I’d do if I did hear it, though.

    • #9
    • May 24, 2020, at 12:20 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. RightAngles Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

    I swear if I hear one more person say “But it’s for our SAFETY!” I will scream. How do they not see it?

    An advantage of staying locked down at home: I’ve never heard anyone say that. No telling what I’d do if I did hear it, though.

    I mostly see it on my local NextDoor, which I keep vowing not to read. This week’s fighting is because they want to reopen the community pool, and those who favor it because we’re ruining summer for the kids are met with sanctimony and derision. For instance:

    -Excuse me? A child going to bed hungry [and there are plenty of them] is cruel. A child denied the use of a pool is an inconvenience. (Oh! Oh! I’ve been so blind! Why couldn’t I have been a good person such as YOU)

    -I love first world problems and so must others who come here (That is not the POINT, you idiot)

    -When I was a kid we used slip-n-slides, sprinklers, hoses, small yard pools, water balloons, and lakes. All probably safer than a public pool (Again, NOT THE POINT.)

    -Simple solution for now would be to take you children to swim in Lake Travis. (Maybe we prefer chlorinated water to the lake with its bacteria not to mention water moccasins, copperheads, and snapping turtles you IDIOT)

    Let’s just say I did not comment in that dumpster fire. Just please let this be OVER.

    • #10
    • May 24, 2020, at 2:15 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.