The “Progressive” Man

Clive Staples Lewis

First, as to putting the clock back; Would you think I was jok­ing if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sen­si­ble thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means get­ting near­er to the place where you want to be. And if you have tak­en a wrong turn­ing, then to go for­ward does not get you any near­er. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walk­ing back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soon­est is the most pro­gres­sive man. We have all seen this when doing arith­metic. When I have start­ed a sum the wrong way, the soon­er I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is noth­ing pro­gres­sive about being pig-head­ed and refus­ing to admit a mis­take. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­takes. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, Chap­ter 5, “We Have Cause to be Uneasy”

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