Chesterton on social maladies

Chesterton on curing social diseases, said we go about it backward. We focus on the problem first and then go after a cure, which is the proper course for physical health, but not really the right approach (he says) for spiritual or social maladies” it is the whole definition and dignity of man that in social matters we must actually find the cure before we find the disease .”  He explains that when it comes to physical health, we all pretty much are agreed on what that looks like.  There may be some disagreement as to scale, but we generally have the same ideas about physical health:

“ow we do talk first about the disease in cases of bodily breakdown; and that for an excellent reason. Because, though there may be doubt about the way in which the body broke down, there is no doubt at all about the shape in which it should be built up again. No doctor proposes to produce a new kind of man, with a new arrangement of eyes or limbs. The hospital, by necessity, may send a man home with one leg less: but it will not (in a creative rapture) send him home with one leg extra. Medical science is content with the normal human body, and only seeks to restore it.”

One may believe veganism or paleo are the best ways to optimum health, and the two are quite different, but we don’t really mean something so very different by ‘optimum health.’

“But exactly the whole difficulty in our public problems is that some men are aiming at cures which other men would regard as worse maladies; are offering ultimate conditions as states of health which others would uncompromisingly call states of disease. ”

This makes me think of so many issues- gun control for just one.  Most of the ‘solutions’ people offer as ‘common sense gun control’ have one of two problems.  They either are already the law (so many gun control advocates seem to no clue what the current laws are), or… the are a solution which I believe offers an even worse malady.  And, of course, aside from the inexcusable failure to investigate and education themselves on what our current laws already are, quite often the solutions that 2A advocates offer are solutions that gun control advocates feel are a worse malady.

You cannot take it for granted that your ‘common sense’ offer is common sense at all to everybody else and this difference of opinion is not because your opponents hate children or are Marxists.


Or at least, never the first, and sometimes not the second, because,  to be honest, I have known many gun control advocates who are Marxists, self-avowed, even.  And although the gun control advocates often rage against those who disagree with them by calling them child murderers who hate kids and have blood on their hands, in fact, I have never met a 2A advocate who hated children  or who was a murderer.

I really wish the nasty, spiteful, irrational, and vicious name-calling would stop.

But I also wish the 2A crowd would go one stop further than “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  That is totally true.   It is also totally true that back in the day, and not so very long ago at that, kids brought guns and knives to school and it wasn’t an issue. My highschool, lots of kids had frog-stickers in sheathes on their belts. Plenty of kids had gun racks in their pick up trucks parked outside and nobody shot anybody else up.  We actually had a gang problem- several of my classmates were in jail for murder within five years of graduation. We had a kid in a wheelchair because of a bullet in a gang fight. We nearly lost one of our jocks because he got in a fight with a couple gang members and they carved up his abdomen (all involved were hispanic, for what it’s worth).  But those fights happened off-campus.  My mother taught high school there and she said that the gang members were some of her most respectful students.

So in discussing gun violence, 2A people all agree that the culture has changed, that it’s not the guns it’s ht epeople- but there we seem to stop.  It *is* the people.  Something has changed.  But it’s not enough to acknowledge that- since it has changed, shouldn’t we do something about it?  What?

I don’t know.  I do not know how to put the evil genies back in their bottles- the evil djinns of broken homes, kids who have never seemingly attached or bonded to anybody, fatherless kids, unapologetic bullying, hateful rhetoric in place of reasoned discourse, emotion over reason, victim culture, identity politics and all the rest.  Well, I do know, from my perspective, we all need Jesus and we need Him a lot more.  But how to get there from here, I don’t know.

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