From the archive
I remember having a conversation a couple of days ago about the bases on which people are likely to discriminate against others in the future. My view is that they’re likely to find something. Chesterton’s essay “On lying in bed“ captures the dynamic I had in mind quite well (I have very little sympathy with C’s politics but much more with his attitude toward the future — I share his dislike of fastidiousness about little things while also extending this dislike to fastidiousness about big things):
The tone now commonly taken toward the practice of lying in bed is hypocritical and unhealthy. Of all the marks of modernity that seem to mean a kind of decadence, there is none more menacing and dangerous that the exaltation of very small and secondary matters of conduct at the expense of very great and primary ones, at the expense of eternal ties and tragic human morality. If there is one thing worse that the modern weakening of major morals, it is the modern strengthening of minor morals. Thus it is considered more withering to accuse a man of bad taste than of bad ethics. […] Especially this is so in matters of hygiene; notably such matters as lying in bed. Instead of being regarded, as it ought to be, as a matter of personal convenience and adjustment, it has come to be regarded by many as if it were a part of essential morals to get up early in the morning. It is upon the whole part of practical wisdom; but there is nothing good about it or bad about its opposite.
Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before.