Chesterton for Mother’s Day

There are very few people who loved children and respected the role of mothers in their lives, than G.K. Chesterton. The following is my tribute to mothers, by way of Chesterton.

This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilisations which disregard it. Most modern reformers are merely bottomless sceptics, and have no basis on which to rebuild; and it is well that such reformers should realise that there is something they cannot reform. You can put down the mighty from their seat; you can turn the world upside down, and there is much to be said for the view that it may then be the right way up. But you cannot create a world in which the baby carries the mother. You cannot create a world in which the mother has not authority over the baby. You can waste your time in trying, by giving votes to babies or proclaiming a republic of infants in arms. You can say, as an educationist said the other day, that small children should “criticise, question authority and suspend their judgment.” I do not know why he did not go on to say that they should earn their own living, pay income tax to the state, and die
in battle for the fatherland; for the proposal evidently is that children shall have no childhood. But you can, if you find
entertainment in such games, organise “representative government”
among little boys and girls, and tell them to take their legal
and constitutional responsibilities as seriously as possible.
In short, you can be crazy; but you cannot be consistent. You cannot really carry your own principle back to the aboriginal group, and really apply it to the mother and the baby. You will not act on your
own theory in the simplest and most practical of all possible cases.
You are not quite so mad as that. (“The Superstition of Divorce”)

When your father told you, walking about the garden, that bees stung or that roses smelt sweet, you did not talk of taking the best out of his philosophy. When the bees stung you, you did not call it an entertaining coincidence. When the rose smelt sweet you did not say “My father is a rude, barbaric symbol, enshrining (perhaps unconsciously) the deep delicate truths that flowers smell.” No: you believed your father, because you had found him to be a living fountain of facts, a thing that really knew more than you; a thing that would tell you truth to-morrow, as well as to-day. And if this was true of your father, it was even truer of your mother; at least it was true of mine, to whom this book is dedicated. Now, when society is in a rather futile fuss about the subjection of women, will no one say how much every man owes to the tyranny and privilege of women, to the fact that they alone rule education until education becomes futile: for a boy is only sent to be taught at school when it is too late to teach him anything. The real thing has been done already, and thank God it is nearly always done by women. Every man is womanised, merely by being born. They talk of the masculine woman; but every man is a feminised man. And if ever men walk to Westminster to protest against this female privilege, I shall not join their procession.

For I remember with certainty this fixed psychological fact;
that the very time when I was most under a woman’s authority, I was most full of flame and adventure. Exactly because when my mother said that ants bit they did bite, and because snow did come in winter (as she said); therefore the whole world was to me a fairyland of wonderful fulfilments, and it was like living in some Hebraic age, when prophecy after prophecy came true. (Orthodoxy)

Happy Mother’s Day!