As I said in an earlier post, I re-read Guliver’s Travels last week for my British Literature class. The last section of the book ends with Gulliver, alone and misanthropic, makng the following rather ironic observation:
My Reconcilement to the Yahoo-kind in general might not be so difficult if they would be content with those Vices and Follies only, which Nature has entitled them to. I am not in the least provoked at the Sight of a Lawyer, a Pick-pocket, a Colonel, a Fool, a Lord, a Gamester, a Politician, a Whore-Master, a Physician, an Evidence, a Suborner, an Attorney, a Traitor, or the like: This is all according to the due Course of Things: But when I behold a Lump of Deformity, and Diseases both in Body and Mind, smitten with Pride, it immediately breaks all the Measures of my Patience; neither shall I be ever able to comprehend how such an Animal and such a Vice could tally together. The wise and virtuous Houyhnhnms, who abound in all Excellencies that can adorn a Rational Creature, have no Name for this Vice in their Language, which has no Terms to express anything that is Evil, except those whereby they describe the detestable Qualities of their Yahoos, among which they were not able to distinguish this of Pride, for want of thoroughly understanding Human Nature, as it sheweth itself in other Countries, where that Animal presides. But I, who had more Experience, could plainly observe some Rudiments of it among the wild Yahoos.
But the Houyhnhnms, who live under the Government of Reason, are no more proud of the good Qualities they possess, than I should be for not wanting a Leg or an Arm, which no Man in his Wits would boast of, although he must be miserable without them. I dwell the longer upon this Subject from the Desire I have to make the Society of an English Yahoo by any Means not insupportable, and therefore I here entreat those who have any Tincture of this absurd Vice, that they will not presume to come in my sight.
By the end of Swift’s satirical travel guide, Gulliver is too repulsed, too refined, actually too proud, to associate with any of the human beings who are his own countrymen.
I thought today that some of the bloggers (naming no names) I’ve been reading have more than a trace of Lemuel Gulliver’s malady. Especially evangelical Christian bloggers. Some of us are so anxious to distinguish ourselves from those right-wing fundamentalists, those Yahoo Christians, those Halloween-hating, demon-fearing, book-burning, lumpish Dobsonites, that we end up displaying the very vices that we decry. I include myself because I’m certainly not immune to pride, and I know how deceptive the human heart can be. It’s important to remember that all of us are Yahoos at heart, no matter how educated and refined and sophisticated we may think we are. Some of the other Yahoos may actually know more than we do about something or another. And we all know what Pride goeth before.
Perhaps it would behoove us all to consider the great distance between our intellect and that of Almighty God and then give our brothers and sisters the benefit of the distance as we write. I think we could all use a little more humilité, as Guinevere called it. Do I need to get me dose by reading C.J. Mahaney’s new book?