Monday, July 14, 2008

"He Believes in Himself"

"The publisher said, 'that man will get on; he believes in himself.'  And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written Hanwell.  I said to him, 'Shall I tell you where the men are who believe in themselves?  For I can tell you.  I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar.  I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success.  I can guide you to the thrones of the Supermen.  The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums...'
....That publisher who thought that men would get on if they believe in themselves, those seekers after the Superman who are always looking for him in the looking-glass, the writers who talk about impressing their personalities instead of creating life for the world, all these people have really only an inch between them and this awful emptiness.  Then when this kindly world all round the man has been blackened out like a lie; when friends fade into ghosts, and the foundations of the world fail; then when the man, believing in nothing and in no man, is alone in his own nightmare, then the great individualistic motto shall be written over him in avenging irony.  The stars will be only dots in the blackness of his own brain; his mother's face will be only a sketch from his own insane pencil on the walls of his cell.  But over his cell shall be written, with dreadful truth, 'He believes in himself.'"
-G.K. Chesterton

As I read this, I was overwhelmed with the realization that not only do I see this to be extremely prevalent in my contemporaries but especially so in myself.  Certainly God created us as unique individuals, each with his own set of talents and dispositions, but Chesterton here is addressing a core issue in our humanity, the intense gravitational pull of Self and the tendency to believe that when all else fades away I still have my independence.  And it seems that independence isn't the only thing we hold so tightly to; no, that's only a fraction of it.  Rather it's our seeming need to be significant, to contribute something, to be special, or as Chesterton puts it to be the 'Superman.'  
There was only one Superman, and he was the most humble servant of all.

1 comment:

aloha-gal said...

Great post! It's an easy trap to fall into since our culture celebrates accomplishment and glorifies self. Saturating our minds in Scripture is a great combat defensive against getting absorbed into that matrix-like brain-numbed state...where we don't even realize we've begun to think that way.
Can't wait to see you!