What might C.S. Lewis say about activism on climate change?
Of course, I don’t know. But the following quote from his address to the Pacifist Society of Britain in 1940 might point in the general direction. He was invited to speak to them concerning the war. I don’t know what the audience’s response was to his message, but I found them compelling. I also found them provocative with regard to “grandiose plans to change the world.”
“But I have received no assurance that anything we can do will eradicate suffering. I think the best results are obtained by people who work quietly away at limited objectives, such as the abolition of the slave trade, or prison reform, or factory acts [laws], or tuberculosis, not by those who think they can achieve universal justice, or health, or peace. I think the art of life consists in tackling each immediate evil as well as we can. To avert or postpone one particular war by way of wise policy, or to render one particular campaign shorter by strength and skill or less terrible by mercy to the conquered and the civilians is more useful than all the proposals for universal peace that have ever been made;”
—C.S. Lewis, in “Why I Am Not a Pacifist”
The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, 44-45
Lewis’s words also seem to echo the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:
9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will [i]behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.
One thought on “What Might C. S. Lewis Say About Activism on Climate Change?”
What a great way to tackle this important topic! Kudos!
The side by side of Lewis with Paul in this epistle is quite illuminating. I get so exasperated at the noise these days, but this clears the clutter and helps to sort things out. That’s what great thinkers, and great communicators do.