“[L]et us cultivate our garden.” (Candide, 87)
Quietism is exhibited perfectly by the final decision of Candide and his band of disillusioned acquaintances to settle on a small plot of ground and stay out of trouble. The whole idea of quietism is basically an acceptance of what seems inevitable. It motivated by pragmatism or political apathy or even rational ignorance; but, whatever the cause, it is frightfully common in most political societies. Quietism is more complicated than mere fearfulness and disillusionment. Sometimes political powerlessness can make it reasonable for individuals in less representative governments to avoid involvement with government affairs. Even in the free United States, it can be more difficult to learn about the political workings than it is worth, a situation resulting in rational ignorance.
Quietism can have monstrous results in society. It quietly saps the strength from any resistance to political or religious evil. Or perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that the causes of quietism sap the society of its strength. Lacking freedom and ability to participate in government are a great hindrance to the fight against earthly evil, but an even greater tragedy is that people often choose to neglect the freedom that is open to them by ignoring the knowledge it requires.
The only way to fight evil in this world is to know the good and to do the good, especially when evil is at hand. We cannot allow difficulty, disappointment, or lack of knowledge to hold us back from the good. Evil can only be conquered if we relentlessly pursue knowledge of the good and change ourselves and society to conform with that highest knowledge.
[Originally written to fulfill discussion board requirements for Dr. Filiatreau's Western Literature II online summer class through Patrick Henry College.]