Discontent The Motive Power Of Progress by Arthur Brisbane

Story type: Essay

At first the baby lies fiat on his back, eyes staring up at the ceiling.

By and by he gets tired of lying on his back. DISCONTENT with his condition makes him wriggle and wriggle. At last he succeeds in turning over.

If he were contented then, there would be no men on earth–only huge babies. But DISCONTENT again seizes him, and through discontent he learns to crawl.

Crawling–travelling on hands and knees–satisfied lower forms of animal life. It used to satisfy us, in the old days of early evolutionary stages.

But the human infant–thanks to inborn cravings–is DISCONTENTED with crawling. With much trouble and risk and many feeble totterings, he learns to walk erect. He gets up into a position that takes his eyes off the ground. He is able to look at the sun and stars and takes the position of a man. DISCONTENT is his mainspring at every stage. —-

What discontent does in the limited life of a child, it does on a much larger scale in the life of a man–and on a scale still larger in the life of a race.

You can always tell when a man has reached the limit of his possible development. He ceases to be discontented–or at least to show discontent actively.

Contentment, apathy, are signs of decadence and of a career ended in either a man or a nation.

If a baby lies still, no longer wiggling or trying to swallow his toe, you may be sure that he is seriously ill. The nation that no longer wiggles is in a condition as serious as that of the motionless infant. —-

See also  Rambler 194 [A young nobleman’s progress in politeness] by Samuel Johnson

The man or newspaper which imparts dissatisfaction–wise discontent to a nation or to individuals, gives them the motive power that brings improvement.

Ruskin as a young man declared that his one hope in life was to arouse “some dissatisfaction.”

The constant aim of men in talking to each other, in writing for newspapers, even in writing novels, should be to arouse discontent.

In this column, as our readers will have noticed, the constant aim is to make the great crowd dissatisfied.

Only through discontent can changes come and are there not causes enough for discontent and need enough for changes?

A majority of the people half educated, and tens of thousands half fed.

Children run over daily because they have no playground but the gutter.

Men of noble aspirations kept down by hard work and poverty.

Children left locked up alone all day while their mothers work for a pittance.

Men, uncertain of their future and of their children’s future, engage in a constant struggle for wealth that is not needed–a struggle that develops in the end a passion as useless as it is degrading.

Unless you believe that the world is perfect because YOU happen to have enough to eat and to wear, you should be discontented.

You should remember that the world’s achievements and great changes have all come from discontent, and you should be, in as many ways as possible, a breeder of discontent among the human beings around you.

Leave a Reply 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *