His life is run in grooves made for him by other people…


Sanity is about wholeness, completeness. Insanity is about narrowness and brokenness. We live in broken society and it is ruled by two very broken, narrow social philosophies that seem to be at war with one another when they are in fact co-conspirators against the common man: socialism and capitalism, or Hudge and Gudge, to whom we were introduced in What’s Wrong with the World. – Dale Ahlquist, Lecture: The Outline of Sanity

“The clerk has exactly the sort of passive functions and permissive pleasures that he would have in the most monstrous model village. I do not sneer at him; he has many intelligent tastes and domestic virtues in spite of the civilization he enjoys. They are exactly the tastes
and virtues he could have as a tenant and servant of the State. But from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep again, his life is run in grooves made for him by other people, and often other people he will never even know. He lives in a house that he does not own, that he did not make, that he does not want. He moves everywhere in ruts; he always goes up to his work on rails. He has forgotten what his fathers, the hunters and the pilgrims and the wandering minstrels, meant by finding their way to a place.
He thinks in terms of wages; that is, he has forgotten the real meaning of wealth. His highest ambition is concerned with getting this or that subordinate post in a business that is already a bureaucracy. There is a certain amount of competition for that post inside
that business; but so there would be inside any bureaucracy. This is a point that the apologists of monopoly often miss. They sometimes plead that even in such a system there may still be a competition among servants; presumably a competition
in servility.”

-G. K. Chesterton, On A Sense of Proportion, The Outline of Sanity, 1925

Read the rest of the book online: The Outline of Sanity

Read the lecture: The Outline of Sanity (Ahlquist )

Author’s note:

Why is The Outline of Sanity on my mind today?  Well, the events of the last few weeks have gathered the subject into a glaring mess for the mind to focus upon.  And Chesterton is the best of the best to help a person do that.   A few days after Ebola and Gaza and Iraq and the President’s vacation to Martha’s Vineyard during all three, the New York Times published the following article that rang a clarion on an issue I have personally experienced and seen tear up another small piece of sanity – routine – in my own life and it was revealing to see it was’t just my life but a whole lot of other lives who are being affected by that.   Sanity says our lives are getting torn up for the crazy convenience of a corporation and their profits.  And its an idea that is permeating down to several levels and affecting more and more of us outside of low-paying jobs.  As the woman interviewed in the article observes:

“She said a more stable schedule and paycheck would allow her to plan how much she could afford to spend on a new home, re-establish a routine for her son, and maybe return to community college.

“I want to surprise everyone,” she said, “because no one is expecting anything of me.”

The article is an eye-opener on the havoc “on demand” schedules play with lives over something as simple as a routine, affecting family stability decisions, even growth – the very thing that so many say entry level workers should strive to do.  In essence, the control of corporations over our lives does exactly what Chesterton talks about in the quote above: it puts people in a rut from which they can’t get out.


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