The Paradox of Wish Fulfillment

Chesterson, in his essay, “Wishes,” observed that in a world where all our wishes came true, we might expect eternal happiness. However, such a reality, beyond the initial excitement, would become unpleasant. It would resemble a dream, but one that transforms into a nightmare. Our egos would likely grow too large for the universe, and the grandiosity of being so important would eventually bore us. For him, however, a great source of his pleasure, he confessed, arose from a certain indifference towards the things around him. When Demeter withers the cornfields, he found delight in their growth although no cornfield had ever flourished because of his assistance. Similarly, Ajax defies the lightning, and he reveled in its defiance of his existence. The stars, the sun, the trees, and the sea brought him joy precisely because they exist independently of him. This sentiment forms the foundation of genuine romance, making life an invigorating adventure rather than a nocturnal illusion.

Indeed, he argued, it is in the clash of circumstances that we truly feel alive. When we engage in a battle of wits or physical combat, the allure lies in the tangible reality of the contest. The lance shatters because it is real, not vanishing like a mythical spear. Even in the realm of poetic impossibilities, where marvels reign, there is always an element of resistance, of actuality, and of shock. The pinnacle of poetic impossibility lies in the collision of an irresistible force with an immovable post. Should such an event occur, it would mark the end of the world.

There are two types of stories involving transformation. In the first, the wonders performed by benevolent individuals, such as saints and friends of humanity, typically involve restoring things or people to their original forms. For instance, if a woman were blind, these kind miracle-workers would restore her sight, or if a man were missing a leg, they would grant him a new one. However, they would not say to the man, “You are so virtuous that you ought to be a woman,” or to the woman, “You are so troubled that you deserve a vacation as a man.”

Conversely, tales of malevolent magic are replete with instances where evil alters and destroys identities. A wicked witch might transform a child into a cat or a dog, or a malevolent magician may keep a prince as a captive parrot or a princess as a hind. In the gardens of evil spirits, humans are turned into statues or bound to the earth as trees.

The denial of objective identity serves as the unmistakable signature of Satan in these instinctive stories. God, on the other hand, is the God of things as they are—or, at least, as He intended them to be.

The power of recognizing the inherent existence of things, independent of our desires, holds great significance in practical politics today. We find ourselves colliding with numerous “realities” or “truths.” Some are factual; others are asserted. To navigate these collisions, we must objectively perceive them, just as we see a tree, understanding that they exist regardless of our personal preferences. We should refrain from attempting to reshape them through the mere exercise of our minds, as if we were witches. While one may choose to live in a fantastical dream, where enemies are transformed into something else, labeling adversaries as parrots or wandering hinds, he will inevitably face the truth—an immovable post. Regrettably, such tendencies often result in violent clashes with the irresistible force of the realities of others.