Back to Observations



2274. Religion may well be ineradicable -- because of the human need for magic and certainty -- a compensatory escape from a reality which has neither. A failure to compartmentalize religious certainty and nuclear capability may prove fatal to the human project.

2262. Idealism is the hopeful flower of societal co-operation. But it is helpful only to a degree; when the real flower appears, the petals are thorns; the nectar -- deadly.

2259. All societies traverse a narrow path -- perhaps a tightrope -- between two realities: on one side is the competitive law of the jungle -- on the other is the paradoxical need for co-operation, the seed bed of egalitarianism. The ultimate aim is survival -- but to stray too far in either direction ensures disaster.

2257. Infinite charity -- the soap bubble of virtuous intent -- will burst on contact with unyielding reality of finite resources.

2254. Stupidity is difficult to fix because, so often, it arises from the innate human desire to sugar-coat reality.

2239. The belief that unequal things are equal is a suicidal distortion of reality. Pretending that the bridge functional is the same as the bridge collapsing can have crushing consequences.

2238. "Equity" is always manufactured by denying equality of opportunity and ignoring quality of input. In any practical sense, it is unfair.

2235. All "ideal" virtues become destructive when they are imposed, unmodified, on the untidiness of reality.

2233. Ideal virtues invariably fail the test of practicality. That is because they are absolutes -- and the real world is changeable, uncertain, and untidy.

2232. The acid test for all theoretical, ideal, "absolute" virtues --is function. What happens when they are applied in practice?

2231. There is a reason why so many "progressive" cities in the United States have fallen into the abyss of dysfunction. It's the huge chasm between ideal virtue signalled, and practical virtue achieved.

2229. The  modern charade -- deceptive and dangerous -- is based on the axiom that feelings are sacrosanct. Logical corollaries are that unequal things must be presented as equal, and practical concerns --such as function, competence, and competitive advantage -- are deemed unnecessary, odious, and divisive.

2176. Hierarchy is the bedrock reality on which the bubbles of egalitarianism invariably burst.

2161. The modern focus is on feelings -- the lens of personal perception; the assumption is that reality is equally flexible and capricious -- and can be bamboozled into submission. It can't.

2142. Practical virtue -- as opposed to ideal virtue -- will never look very good. It will always be untidy --and reflect a compromise with some awkward aspect of reality.

2139. The battle between idealism and realism is organic to the human condition. Each can be destructive -- but only one wears a mask.

2138. The occupants of a small lifeboat may have the virtuous instinct to welcome onboard hundreds of other survivors of the sinking ocean liner. But too many will reduce the freeboard and ensure that all will perish.

2137. Self-preservation has cruelty at its core.

2136. The idealist would have the lion and gazelle lie down together on the plain, and, gazing at the stars, philosophize about equality. The realist knows that the lion requires the gazelle for purposes other than philosophical discussion.

2133. Idealists would have the lion lie down with the gazelle, and, gazing at the stars, discuss the advantages of equality. They ignore the fact that before dinner,  both lion and gazelle are otherwise engaged, and after dinner, only the lion can see the stars.

2121. Bullies are never appeased. They are encouraged by submission; they are deterred only by resistance.

2101. Improvement is possible; perfection is not.

2099. Make-believe worlds are like soap bubbles -- they don't land well.

2065. Emotions may often be swayed by facts; facts do not reciprocate.

2063. The law of diminishing -- and ultimately negative -- returns -- applies to every ideal and every virtue. The closer you get to completing the crystal palace, the more obvious become the advantages of the mud hut. That is because crystal palaces-- inflexibly -- require crystal people; mud huts can forgive us our humanity.

2059. The Carbon Gods would scarcely notice if Canadians retreated, dutifully, to the caves. The government, on the other hand. would be pleased; it is firmly committed to the idea that it is better to posture than to prosper.

2045. Feelings represent emotional truths -- they are aspects of our consciousness. They are part of the real world we inhabit -- but large swathes of reality don't give a damn. 

2040. Nothing real is ideal; imperfection is the ticket price for existence.

2037. Idealism is as idealism does.

2036. Those who signal virtue must bear responsibility for the practical results of its pursuit. People should not be excused for their failure to distinguish between what sounds good and what works.

2020. Those who are determined to see the world as it "should" be, will discover their determination is radically insufficient to the task.

2019. We live in an age determined to put feelings first -- to "sentimentalize" reality. Reality is not amused.

2012. Racism is the symptom; cultural dissonance is the disease; the susceptibility -- the underlying pre-disposition -- is our evolutionary legacy -- our innate tribalism.

1952. The dream of perfection is the curse of mankind. The reality is always less.

1900. Mindless virtue-signalling is widely admired; realistic assessments -- lacking the required elements of optimism and fantasy -- are widely ignored.

1872. Those who seek to destroy the past are attempting to alter reality,  they pretend  that the present is rootless, exempt from causality. But the past is a guide to both the potential -- and the limitations -- of human nature. A future conceived on the basis of wishful thinking is doomed: if you do not understand the cause of a problem, your solution will compound rather than cure.

1866. When you try to exchange reality for wishful thinking, reality can be surprisingly vindictive.

1833. An acceptance of reality can be remarkably freeing. Once you can say that equality is not in the blueprint of nature, and that political correctness is a dangerous sentimentalization of reality, you can come -- with great relief -- to conclusions formerly forbidden -- considered unkind, anti-social, immoral, and disruptive.  

1826. During the Obama presidency, it was thought students should be held to account differently -- according to their backgrounds; thus, it would appear that there was no link between troublemakers and culture. It is extraordinary how stupid people become when they decide to ignore reality,  and subscribe to a "preferred narrative."

1767. Political correctness represents the three monkey approach to reality: assuming that everything and everyone is equally worthy -- it refuses to see, hear, or speak of the "evil" of hierarchy. Reality, when ignored, can be surprisingly vindictive.

1755. Human beings yearn for moral perfection -- you can call it "social justice," if you like. But reality insists on compromise -- the equivalent of moral failure. This explains why frustration and disappointment are ineradicable threads in the fabric of human existence.

1740. Without the "preferred narrative" -- the steady diet of lies -- liberals would be forced from the asylum and have to deal with reality -- just like everybody else.

1725. Failure is baked into every cake destined for the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

1701. Altruism -- despite its claim -- is still, ultimately, the handmaiden of competitive societal advantage; the society which believes that competition -- with its callous distinction between failure and success -- can be replaced with egalitarian loving kindness -- will not survive. It will be superseded by those with a better understanding of reality.

1697. Socialists do not realize that the essence of life is the struggle for unequal outcomes -- that the lifeblood of the human condition is the freedom to achieve success by overcoming adversity. They believe in a perennial perambulator of "equality" -- a doled-out baby formula of "security" -- and a level route designed to avoid the hills and valleys of reality. The effect is to ensure passivity and dependence -- a cage of incompetence and failure.

1632. Reality -- the truth -- is sprawling, stubborn, contradictory, mysterious, and inconvenient. It cannot be tidily stuffed into the little boxes of religious dogma -- nor can it be agreeably housed in the brittle crystal palace of egalitarian socialist ideals.

1624. Altruism -- despite its claim -- is still, ultimately, the handmaiden of competitive societal advantage; the society which believes that competition -- with its callous distinction between failure and success -- can be replaced with egalitarian loving kindness -- will not survive. It will be superseded by those with a better understanding of reality.

1616. Ideals are absolutes -- and hence unforgiving. The real world -- a see-saw of necessary opposites -- requires compromise.

1615. Political correctness is the determination to see only la vie en rose; wherever reality is deemed unpleasant, it is exchanged for fantasy.

1594. Socialism is the crystal palace which nobody knows how to build. Much of the difficulty lies in the fashioning of the required crystal people.

1578. The ideal and the real are inextricably intertwined threads -- they form the Gordian knot of human existence.

1577. In the ideal world, the lion lies down with the lamb, and they discuss how the brotherhood of creatures may best be expressed and enhanced. In the real world, the lion cannot philosophize before dinner. At the heart of the human predicament is the need to make a reconciliation -- always imperfect -- between the two worlds.

1572. The border wall is a defining symbol of our age. It is seen by realists as a cruel necessity -- by idealists as unnecessarily cruel.

1570. Humbug -- a collection of agreeable lies -- lubricates the social machinery. It's a Goldilocks thing: too little, and the truth is unpleasant and depressing; too much -- no one can get a grip on anything, and people start yearning for reality.

1569. The amount of hypocrisy in any endeavour may be seen as directly proportional to the distance between the proclaimed ideal and the underlying reality.

1549. It's a long bridge between dream and reality.

1540. "God" is mankind's deceptively simple answer to many difficult questions. But magic only works for the illusionist on stage; in the real world, the need is for facts. 

1539. As a species, we seem fated to pursue ideal perfection -- in a world where the only constant is change -- and what works is always a compromise.

1537. There is often, currently, a conscious effort to blur the distinction between subjective perception and objective reality There is a big difference between saying that some have an acute perception that they are misgendered -- and saying that not all boys have penises. The second statement fails to distinguish between reality and a subjective perception of it.  

1492.We must strive for equality of opportunity, but accept inequality of result as not necessarily requiring remediation. This is not inconsistency; it is reality.

1423. Life comes with a guarantee of muddle and uncertainty: there is no chart for safe passage between the lure of the ideal and the demands of the real.

1422. With enough dedication and perseverance -- success is assured; you may not achieve your goal -- but you will discover what is achievable -- and hence the difference between fantasy and reality.

1350. Freedom of religion is the freedom to engage in fantasy. To give special deference to religious ideas -- because they claim divine approval -- is to express a preference for fantasy over fact.

1308. People who insist on seeing the world as it "should" be -- rather than as it is -- choose a dangerous path. They will eventually discover the curious but persistent relationship between real chasms and imaginary bridges.

1307. The popular ship "Sounds Good" invariably runs aground on the obdurate and immovable rocks of "What Works."

1255. Every ideal is blind to reality. The abyss of truth is remarkably patient.

1165. Emphasizing equality rather than merit will work -- as long as you are not in competition with realists.

1152. Socialism proves -- through its repeated failures -- that equality is not in the blueprint of nature. That socialist schemes are still pursued illustrates the continuing unpopularity of reality.

1145. The great political divide has its roots in psychology: Those on the left are idealistic and gullible; those on the right realistic and apprehensive. One side focuses on hopeful intentions, the other on unsatisfactory results.

1135. The notion of complementary opposites is the key to understanding the limitations of the real world. It is not a question of choosing, irrevocably, peace, freedom, love, tolerance, and equality. All of these ideal conceptions imply their necessary opposites. Conflict, restriction, hatred, and inequality cannot be wished away with pious incantations, however heartfelt, or with determined imaginings, no matter how fervent.

1124. Immigration: compassionate ideals are attractive -- but practical realities -- despite their cosmetic deficiencies -- often interfere.

1122. Political correctness insists on a smooth, egalitarian consistency -- but reality is always lumpy.

1098. Egalitarian ideals will forever founder on the unmovable rock of hierarchic reality: some ideas are invariably better than others.

1097. The conflict between the ideal and the real worlds cannot be resolved: one is too fanciful for implementation, the other too depressing for contemplation.

1062. It is fashionable to proclaim -- especially in the interests of compassion and tolerance -- that unequal things are equal. In this manner, stupidity is enhanced, while the reality remains unchanged.

1061. Voting for politicians who spout optimistic nonsense is like buying a lottery ticket: you can live in a fantasy of hope until the numbers are drawn. Then it's back to reality.

1056. The best dreams are those long-cooked over a slow fire -- and well seasoned with reality.

996. The attractive theory is equality; the plain reality is hierarchy.

947. The "preferred narrative" of those on the left is the world not as it is, but as it "ought" to be. Thus fascism is the obvious and necessary response to any threatening reminders of a reality that has already been rejected.  

730. The Rose Garden was never promised; nor should it be invoked or simulated by Human Rights Commissions.

729. Reality is always the dowdy sister to Fancy. [This is the last element of Observation #5. It appears as an independent Observation in The Quote Garden -- and elsewhere. It seemed appropriate to give it a number of its own.]

706. A refusal to face reality allows it to stab you in the back.

660. Careful dreams begin the necessary voyage to improvement. Careless dreams disdain reality -- they end in wreckage -- a harsh testament to the perils of idealistic gullibility.

615. More blest would be the world by far --
        Could we but see things as they are.

602. Ideals are absolutes — they are like round holes of perfection into which the square, rough_hewn pegs of reality can never be successfully fitted.

597. Reality is not pleasant -- but fantasy can be far more dangerous.

576. Those who breathlessly praise 'cultural diversity' as an end in itself seem to forget that, in the natural world, diversity provides not only good ideas which triumph, but bad ideas which, deservedly, fail.

556. The dreams most desirable are least attainable.  This is the first axiom in the geometry of reality.

538. Blown from the pipe of hope, the shimmering, iridescent bubbles of equality eventually find their way to the uneven reality of earth.

537. The nature of reality is such that the prism of illusion is always necessary.

487. Idealism is a rejection of reality. The difficulty is that reality is sometimes subject to alteration, sometimes not. The most productive idealism is tentative and hopeful; the most dangerous is that infused with absolute certainty.

448. There are contradictions at the heart of human existence which ensure a restless dis-ease: sentient creatures can thrive only in the unreasonable expectation of their own permanence; uplifting, co-operative, egalitarian dreams are restrictively contained in a prevailing landscape of hostile competition. In short, religious and social ideals inevitably conflict with reality.

447. In the pigsty of reality -- always the cruel hope of a silk purse.

425. Most men are part realist, part idealist. The ideals are usually chosen; realistic notions are generally compelled by circumstance.

418. The path to progress is often blocked by the deference which reality is required to pay to fantasy.

417. The most popular sandwiches are short on reality, long on baloney. Alternate version: The tastiest sandwiches are short on reality, long on baloney.

397. The "ideal" ideal is that which gives up something of its essence, and makes a compromise with reality.

302. There can be no honesty in politics: the realist must lie to get elected; the idealist, easily elected for his promises, must cede his beliefs to reality once in office.

273. Propaganda is never more necessary than in a universe of disagreeable realities.

187. If the world of the realist is depressing, that of the idealist is dangerous. Happy is that state where the balloon of hope can lift us from the Slough of Despond, without taking us above those heights where breath must perish.

183. Reality is Darwinian; man’s aspirations, egalitarian. From this obdurate dichotomy flows much disappointment, dissatisfaction, and despair.

122. Imagination is the fuel of man’s aspirations, and his greatest gift; it explores both the world of the possible–as in advances which are achievable because of their consonance with reality–and the world of the unreal as in fiction, superstition, and religion. A great danger arises when one is unable –or unwilling--to distinguish between these two worlds.

113. A consistent gloominess is the best defence against reality.

80. The harmony of civilization rests in finding a balance between the Darwinian realities of competition and hierarchy--and the ideal of equality. This balance is a matter of individual perception and circumstance, and, like the perfect shade of green, will always elude a final determination.

73. Hypocrisy is little more than a human mechanism for coping with reality.

67. The ideal of equality in human affairs will always be undermined by the persistence of variation and preference, and by the realities of failure and success.

64. No one is convinced by the arguments of old men; their convictions, their passions, are compromised by too prolonged an awareness of reality; it is youth that must lead the world, drawing from its bountiful ignorance, the requisite enthusiasm, the necessary certainty.

56. If nothing else, The United Nations has a significant instructive purpose: it shows with what speed and to what extent idealism can be corrupted by reality.

54. Religion is the triumph of hope over reality.

25. There is a constant battle, in society, between realism and idealism. Idealism often wins out, since realism is much less flattering to our self-image; but the outcome is seldom to our advantage.

5. Reality is always the dowdy sister to Fancy.