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Thanks To 21st-Century Snobs, Classic Literature Is ‘Gone With The Wind’

Growth stems from discomfort. If classic books are removed from public consumption and discourse, then personal growth will stagnate.

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Truth remains true no matter the length of time that has transpired since it was initially spoken. There is no expiration date for it. What is true today was also true yesterday and will still be true tomorrow.

Despite this obvious fact, many in our society have begun to reject anything that predates our times. We view ourselves as better and more intelligent than every generation that came before us. There is an inherent danger in presupposing our “modern” values to be superior in every way to those held by previous generations.

C.S. Lewis calls this “chronological snobbery,” which he defines as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate of our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that count discredited.”

His words still ring true today, though I hasten to add that those who subscribe to this philosophy would no doubt discount his words on the same grounds — they were, after all, penned in the mid-20th century. Antiquated indeed.

Most recently, I have seen this in action through the attempted rewriting of children’s classics like “The Secret Garden” to be less “problematic.” And don’t forget the great cancellation era of 2020 in which classic novels such as “Gone With the Wind” found themselves on the chopping block.

Removing classic literature from shelves only serves to harm us as a society. Readers can engage with such material and determine for themselves what is true and worth emulating and what is not. And, quite frankly, how demeaning is it to presume we are incapable of a feat that is hardly an exercise in cognitive gymnastics? No one in his right mind reading “Gone with the Wind” thinks that the way slaves are treated or discussed within the pages of the novel or in the film is acceptable. It makes you uncomfortable — and it should.

Growth stems from discomfort. If such books and ideas are removed from public consumption and discourse, then personal growth will stagnate, and we will have no concept of the thoughts and values of another era.

To return to the concept introduced by C.S. Lewis, we have not gotten progressively more moral, more intelligent, more righteous, or more (dare I even say it) tolerant with each subsequent generation. In fact, you could probably make a strong argument to the contrary. What we have now is a society that thinks of itself as both morally and intellectually superior. It thinks of itself as better not only to those who preceded them but also to any of their peers who may not align with their views on every matter under the sun.

Of course, the old adage that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it certainly fits within the context of this argument, but the scope should be enlarged beyond that.

What happens to a society that forgets its past — both the good and the bad?

In short, it forgets its heritage, its lessons learned, and — most essentially — who it is. If we despise and dismiss our past as a nation, we will forget what it means to be American and what our forefathers fought and sacrificed their lives to protect.

They fought for religious freedom. They fought for the classic principles forever enshrined within our Constitution. They fought to defend the land they called home and for the families they left behind.

If you were not taught to read and appreciate classic novels, or any novel written in an era other than your own, and understand them to be a product of their time that retain truth for today, then I am truly sorry for you. You are missing out on a wonderful gift, and that in and of itself is a tragedy. All I ask is this: Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.


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