The Role of the Holy Fool
How Does Your Money Work?

Imposing Moral Health on those Who Are Morally Ill and Contagious

Surgery Who has the right to impose values on other people?

  1. Parent
  2. Preacher within a religious tradition
  3. Philosopher within a philosophical tradition
  4. Teacher of a literary tradition
  5. Advertiser
  6. Marketer
  7. Motivational speaker
  8. Corporate trainer
  9. Human Resources Executive
  10. Pundit
  11. Talk show host
  12. Prison warden

Assume now that the values imposed on the child, consumer, or employee are injurious to that person's full functioning as a healthy and engaged citizen. Perhaps the values imposed are hide-bound, dogmatic, shallow, inconsistent, crude, or otherwise insufficient for human flourishing. Assume that the child so raised, or consumer or employee so indoctrinated, becomes highly successful, in worldly terms, though stunted as human being. Assume that such a client shows up as a Values-based Planning Client hellbent on passing her Family Values on to her children, and imposing her values on others via her political lobbying, her think tanks, her pundits and propagandists and her philanthropy. What then are our responsibilities, as a Morals Tutor, to her, her children, to her employees, to our society?

From the time of the Hellenistic Philosophers to the present,  the role of  the moral philosopher has been to heal the distempered human spirit, but that requires a willing spirit, a student who recognizes that her value system is out of whack, and is in fact injurious to her well-being, and that of others. Yet it is in the nature of a moral disease that, like a virus, it seeks out and destroys self-knowledge, replacing it with complacency, vain-glory, vanity, and spiritual pride. Such a person cannot be taught nor healed by conventional philosophical means for the mind is closed, the heart hardened.

That is why, I think, in Greece and Rome, there grew up, along with the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the Cynics, who were engaged in the cure of souls, a related school of Satirists, who descend from Aristophenes.  They do the same job as the philosophers, and like them seek to heal, as might a doctor or surgeon. The difference is that the satirist applies the scalpel to the patient who refuses philosophical treatment and thereby becomes a danger to herself, her family, and to the society of which she aspires to be leader.  Sickness in ethics as in the body is contagious. It can spread or propagate like the plague. The Satirist is concerned with individual moral health, but more importantly with the health of the overall body politic. For that reason he must be as unflinching in the application of the lash, the scalpel, the wheel, and the noose as is the public hangman to whose noble trade Dryden quite rightly likens his own as an accomplished satirist.

To be a values-based planner who has no concern for the moral health of the client, who begins from the client's sick values and helps them to propagate throughout the body politic does not strike me as a noble or socially responsible thing to do.  So planners too much feel the corrective lash, since surely they are far from feeling they need help, far from seeking out their own cure. Thus, they must be ambushed and cured in the alley, where I drag them, out behind the Dumpster. They may or may not thank me, but society does.  And my work is pro bono publico, for the good of humankind.

(I would like to thank my colleague, Dr. Amrit Chadwallah, for his editorial assistance with this post to the creation of  which I have devoted a lifetime of study.  Il migliore fabbro.)