Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 110

Mr. Propter laughed. “It’s good to be cynical,” he said. “That is, if you know when to stop. Most of the things that we’re taught to respect and reverence—they don’t deserve anything but cynicism. Take your own case. You’ve been taught to worship ideals like patriotism, social justice, science, romantic love. You’ve been told that such virtues as loyalty, temperance, courage and prudence are good in themselves, in any circumstances. You’ve been assured that self-sacrifice is always splendid and fine feelings invariably good. And it’s all nonsense, all a pack of lies that people have made up in order to justify themselves in continuing to deny God* and wallow in their own egotism. Unless you’re steadily and unflaggingly cynical about the solemn twaddle that’s talked by bishops and bankers and professors and politicians and all the rest of them, you’re lost. Utterly lost. Doomed to perpetual imprisonment in your ego—doomed to be a personality in a world of personalities; and a world of personalities is this world, the world of greed and fear and hatred, of war and capitalism and dictatorship and slavery. Yes, you’ve got to be cynical, Pete. Specifically cynical about all the actions and feelings you’ve been taught to suppose were good. Most of them are not good. They’re merely evils which happen to be regarded as credible. But unfortunately, credible evil is just as bad as discreditable evil. Scribes and Pharisees aren’t any better, in the last analysis, that publicans and sinners. Indeed, they’re often much worse. For several reasons. Being well thought of by others, they think well of themselves; and nothing so confirms an egotism as thinking well of oneself. In the next place, publicans and sinners are generally just human animals, without enough energy or self-control to do much harm. Whereas the scribes and Pharisees have all the virtues, except the only two which count, and enough intelligence to understand everything except the real nature of the world. Publicans and sinners merely fornicate and over-eat, and get drunk. The people who make wars, the people who reduce their fellows to slavery, the people who kill and torture and tell lies in the name of their sacred causes, the really evil people in a word—these are never the publicans and the sinners. No, they’re the virtuous, respectable men, who have the finest feelings, the best brains, the noblest ideals. “

*refers specifically to a universal transcending force as opposed to the Christian God or other similar Christian-like deity

After Many a Summer Dies the Swan

Aldous Huxley          1939

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