Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Constancy

So I was reading a book, and came across this:

“And whatever each man believed in he hammered at steadily, without skepticism: and there was a time when the Established Church might have fallen, and the House of Lords nearly fell. It was because Radicals were wise enough to be constant and consistent; it was because Radicals were wise enough to be Conservative.” —G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Conservative. Conservative radicals. Radical conservatives. Radical.

How interesting—their radicalism changed the world because their radicalism did not change. What an intriguing idea—only constancy can bring about change.

William Wilberforce knew it; he worked tirelessly for over a decade to bring about a stop to the slave trade. He tried different tactics to do it, but the main driving force, what gave him power, and the end goal was always the same: end the suffering of those involved in the slave trade. Period.

“But,” one (minorly annoying) critic may say, “Wilberforce changed his approach a million times!” (at this natural break I would point out that this minorly annoying critic was exaggerating. Ignoring me, the critic would continue) “How can you call that constant?”

To that I say this: he never changed his purpose. And he never changed who he was. He got to be a better version of himself, and he did get sick along the way, but he didn’t change who he was—his ideals, and his desire to stop the evil he could from being practiced. In the movie about him, Amazing Grace, he said, “I didn’t change! I never change!” And it’s true. If you attach your purpose and goals to eternal truths, you won’t need to change them. You will most certainly have to change yourself.

The most nefariously evil villans are the ones who are bent on one specific evil scheme.

Constantly changing your goals, or worse yet, the ideals and purpose on which your goals are based, makes it hard to plug at hard problems long enough to be able to actually change things in a permanent way.

So what? Why does it matter that in order to change we need constancy?

Well, it doesn’t really matter unless we want change. What's worth being constant enough and changing yourself? And being dedicated enough to a cause, deep enough to plug forward until it's accomplished? 


  1. I think love for a person or people is always worth being constant and dedicated to. And efforts that you know will change you for the better are also worth it. What deserves constancy in your book?

    1. I agree—love for people is worth being constant to. I also think preserving and spreading truth—especially in its best forms—are worth being constant in.