A Serious Conundrum
I would like to turn Gifthub into a serious site about philanthropy. I could put up all kinds of content to help not only advisors and fundraisers but also high capacity (rich as hell) donors and clients. I could attract, serve, and retain "hyperagents" who could change the world into the world we (Royal Plural) want. I could probably make a pretty good buck reforming the morals of the rich man's wife and kids, and sending him the bill. Every time I consider doing this I am torn.
- To the extent I am serious, I am playing the reader, let alone the client, for a damn fool.
- To the extent I play the Fool, I might do serious harm to mine own comfort and dignity.
A Case in Point
I am working with a family systems therapist to write an essay about multi-disciplinary wealth planning. Her husband happens to be a minister. They are both quite serious about their efforts, at least on company time, and quite sincere, but how can they heal what is sick in us? Therapy makes us normal, when it works, and in our society it is normal to be crass, materialistic, selfish, blind to what matters, deaf to the cries of those in need, dumb in the face of planetary collapse, and paralyzed. We are lepers whose disease is materialism. We are as sick as those we seek to heal. With the therapist and the priest I plot fundraising to support the Church to heal us of materialism.
Mentors in my Noble Trade
Jesus raised the dead, cured the halt, the lame, the blind - so they say. But he never cured a rich man, did he? (I hope I am wrong but wasn't Lazarus the beggar at the rich man's door? Jesus raised the one dead man, and left the other to his feasting.)
Jesus is kind of a pariah, really, even now, and I do not mean to invoke him as if I believed in him, that would mark me out at as partisan, and either ill-educated or much too literal. Instead let me recall another healer, the master my therapist friend must follow, Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Do you recall how he went to see Democritus, the laughing philosopher? Hippocrates like Freud, Jung, Adler, and Bowen took himself quite seriously. Democritus poked fun. The Father of Medicine frowned, feeling himself insulted. "Laughter," said Democritus, "is the best medicine." "That is so stupid," replied Hippocrates, "you are a Fool." Democritus nearly choked laughing. "What have I been telling you?" Then the healer started laughing. "Now I see! I finally get the joke! That was a good one, on me." And so this sick healer was cured of his sobriety. (Integrity whose opposite is corruption means being whole or all of a piece. And what are we through and through all of us but fools?)
All this is to say that my becoming serious about philanthropy would be a joke. Not even funny. I would be a fool to try. Democritus, by the way, means "beloved of the people." Philanthropy, starts at the top, among hyperagents, and is no laughing matter - at least to them and those who would earn their trust. The servants in red jackets, or dressed in suits as wealth counselors, or as French Maids of all work, must not break a smile. Faith, hope, and charity get you to the same point. But the way of the cross is no laughing matter either. I would rather get drunk. Ah, fabulous Rabelais, trained as a doctor, collector of folk tales and folk cures, please pass that pitcher of beer. Let us die laughing. That is our beggar's legacy.