Saturday, October 28, 2017

Love and/or Charity (Heavenly Graces, Pt.2)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"Love all, trust a few, do harm to none." -Shakespeare 

Dear (eventual) Stickies & Great-Grandstickies,

"...Love, to take care of one's own, yes. But it is to care for employees and partners and colleagues and customers and fellow citizens, to wish all of humankind well...finding human and transcendent connection in the marketplace... ."

This is the first result of my semi-humble attempt, as I threatened last week, at secularizing the Theological Virtues, also called the Heavenly Graces. They're also referred to as the Christian contribution to the Seven Virtues by the woman quoted above, Dr. Deirdre McCloskey.

By secularizing I simply mean that I (and no shortage of myriad H. sapiens who are obviously smarter than I) think all three of the so-called Theological Virtues can be interpreted in a secular manner and should be integrated and practiced with the four Cardinal Virtues. This is true regardless of your religious beliefs, or the lack thereof.

This works the other way as well. No less a personage than St. Thoma Aquinas spoke of the wisdom and utility of combining them into the form I was taught several thousand days ago in the Black & White ages, THE Seven Virtues. This in spite of the fact the Cardinal Virtues were promulgated by some very famous pagans.

Warning: Early Onset Digression
Speaking of Charity... Did you know that Americans donate more money to charity than any other country on the planet? Any way you measure it, we're number one. Nice, right? We're nicer than many say we are. Not that it necessarily does us much good.

I link lightly as a matter of policy. There are many reasons for this but I'll spare you and mention just one. Even when everyone agrees on something, many-ones will respond with a yeah-but.

When I googled the phrase Americans donate the most to charity (I thought I already knew this but wanted to make sure it hadn't changed) the first link that appeared was: Americans are the world's most charitable, top 1% provide 1/3 of all.... So far, so good.


Link three: Americans Are Less Charitable -- The Atlantic. Link six: Why Most Americans Give Little or Nothing to Charity | HuffPost.

Gentlereaders, I insincerely apologize for the digression. My dear Stickies, please note confirmation bias in action (we're wired that way) and the politicization of everdamnthing (we seem to be trying to wire ourselves that way).

And now, back to our show. Let's begin by tossing out the first things most of us think of when we hear the word Charity (as referenced above) and  (INSERT SOUND OF HARP BEING STRUMMED, HERE) the word Love.

While both are of supreme importance, we're talkin' big picture conceptualization here people. Oh, and to avoid confusion (and so that I don't have to keep typing the phrase Love and/or Charity over and over again) we're going with Charity.

Think of Charity as love in action, applied love. If Love is the ideal/answer/all ya' need -- whatever -- Charity is what you do about it. To me, Charity and Justice are the two virtues of the Magnificent Seven whose job is to make it possible for the kids to peacefully share the playground.

Justice is the acknowledgment of the need for rules/morality and the willingness to follow them/it. Applied Charity is refraining from clobbering (verbally/physically/emotionally/etceteraly) the many hoopleheads that inevitably cross our path.

[Wait,wait,wait, refraining from clobbering, this is your idea of love in action?]

Dana's in the house! (or in my head at least). Marie-Louise is scratchin' and smilin,' she knows where I'm headed. Being a hard-headed, practical woman she approves. Iggy's at school.]

Yes, Dana. I'll leave the spiritual/romantic/esoteric/etceteric applications to those more qualified than I (as well as composers of high-calorie pop songs). I prefer to focus...


Wow, cool voice! Very Billy Grahmish. ...Do I know you?

[I'm a literary straw man supplied by Marie-Louise to move the narrative along.]

Well, my thanks to you both. Anyways... well, let me put it this way. I get it, universal love is, um, all you need because love (love, love) is the answer. Fine, but we're not commanded to all like one another. We don't, and we can't.

Yet another BIG BUT

We can't consciously choose to love someone(s).

We can consciously choose to be rational, civilized grups. We can consciously choose to treat others as we'd like to be treated (you may have heard something like that before...). We can acknowledge that the playground's not much fun if the other kids go home (well, usually).

It's easy to love the people we love. Well, mostly. Or at least regularly. Or hopefully, at least occasionally. It's complicated; what isn't?

However, I don't care how many virtual friends you have on Facebook, the planet Earth is home to approximately 7,500,000,000 actual people. You don't even know most of them, much less love them. But unless you embrace the way of the Bully, as more than a few do, you have to try and find a way to get along.

[Gentlereaders, on a related note, China's current emperor, Xi Jinping (Xi Dada), says hello. If you click on the link, which will take you to an awesome video, and if you watch said video, make sure to watch the whole thing. The background singers rock.]

"...Love, to take care of one's own, yes. But it is to care for employees and partners and colleagues and customers and fellow citizens, to wish all of humankind well ...finding  human and transcendent connection in the marketplace... ."

Love in the marketplace? The dog eats dog, kill or be killed marketplace? Yup. Jeff Bezos, the gajillionaire mogul who founded and runs Amazon, and who is regularly accused of trying to be to retail what Xi Dada is to China gets it. He doesn't call it love or Charity, he calls it the Amazon Doctrine.

"Above all else, align with customers. Win when they win. Win only when they win."

"Above all else, align with H. sapiens. Win when they win. Play the game fairly and no matter who wins everyone wins." -me

I could write a whole other letter about the previous sentence; maybe another time. Suffice it to say it doesn't apply to (literally speaking) war. A fairly fought war in the marketplace, that dog eats dog shtuff, results in the customers winning and the loser lives to fight another day. As to sports, or any game, if you, or your team, won all the time, no one would bother playing (think about that, it's important). Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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