John Cleese on Monty Python and Political Correctness

What are you working on now?

I have a show I’m working on at the moment called Why There Is No Hope.

Sounds funny. 

It is funny. Some people immediately see the title as funny and other people go what?! There is no hope that we’ll ever live in a rational, kind, intelligent society. To start, most of us are run by our unconscious and, unfortunately, most of us have no interest in getting in touch with our unconscious. So if the majority of people are run by something they don’t know anything about, how can we have a rational society?

…Put aside intellectually smart, the trouble is that most people aren’t even emotionally smart. They can’t deal with reality. If they’re not doing well, they’ll blame someone else. That’s why I have no hope of our ever having a proper, well-organized, fair, intelligent, kind society. We have to let go of that idea. It is possible that in some small area you can improve things temporarily…But there’s no way to sustain it because people have no control over their egos and don’t understand — or don’t care — how their egos are distorting their thinking. Things always fall back into chaos. Which is why there is no hope.

There’s absolutely nothing that gives you any hope about the future of human society?

Nothing.

Nothing?

Nothing.

So why get up in the morning?

Just because you can’t create a sensible world doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the world you’re in. I think Bertrand Russell once said that the secret to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible. Once you realize that things are pretty hopeless, then you just have a laugh and you don’t waste time on things that you can’t change — and I don’t think you can change society. I’ve spent a lot of time in group therapy watching highly intelligent, well-intentioned people try to change and they couldn’t. If even they can’t change…”

—David Marchese. “In Conversation: John Cleese.” Vulture. September 12, 2017

Remember Cleese offering another bit of wisdom in another interview that has stuck with me, roughly paraphrased: You have a choice in life. You can try to control other people or you can control your own emotions. The second is easier.

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