Helping Others

Help, as an intended act, is complex, and difficult.

First, help requires clarity of sight in the helper. Clarity of sight is a combination of good character and prudence (practical wisdom). The good character (temperance, fortitude, justice, magnanimity) of the helper and the practical wisdom necessary are correlated. Development in the one is not possible without development in the other. Without moral and intellectual virtue help becomes accidental and a matter of luck. One happens to feel well, happens to see clearly, and happens to understand what is required.

Virtue as stable state of character enables the most effective, cheapest, and most ready kind of help which is the attractiveness of the instantiation of health in a human as an example or model to the helped. This requires the helped to want it. But without the desire for virtue there is little that can be done for the vicious anyway. Give him knowledge, food, shelter, or friendship and it will be wasted. What he wants first is virtue. Everything else must be conditioned on this.

Second, in the domain of prudence (practical wisdom) the most important knowledge if of the human. Modern man in his Newtonian and Cartesian mechanistic analysis of the human has totally ignored the panting desperate feral pig in man. Without a knowledge of time, place and condition one can intend help and create catastrophe at the same time. In other words mere good intention is not enough for help.

The most important ancient truth about the human that must be considered is that the satisfaction of need produces rest. This is true of the infant at the mother’s breast, and it is true of the adult who achieves his goals. Once satisfied the human will cease movement and effort. This means that effort is largely relative to goal and dissatisfaction. We moderns have not appreciated this ancient truth.

Maslow, in his hierarchy of needs analysis, was said at the end of his life to wonder why more did not reach self-actualization. The question is natural given the thesis that there is natural movement up the hierarchy and the modern state has largely satisfied the physical want and need for basic security (and of course these come in degrees). But what Maslow oversimplified the situation. Humans do not naturally work. They naturally rest. One has to view self-actualization as desirable in order to move beyond the satisfaction of the feral pig.

What should be clear to us with addiction to opioids (mental obesity), sugar (obesity), sex (porn) is that the satisfaction of basic needs does not lead to natural progress, but to a stalling and over-consumption.

There is coming a time when we will have to let those go who wish to stall. The burden of their weight metaphorically and literally will be too great for those of us who wish to live differently. Once the chord of support is cut and the experience of the consequences of choice is again felt, then will come meaningful request for help, repentance, and a time for mercy and aid.

And it will not be easy. One of the things we have noticed is that when people have needs both the virtuous and the vicious reach out but for different reasons. This is a difficulty which must be faced. But the distinction between the two is real and possible, and once virtue is allowed to shine it will defeat vice.

Published by Purilib

Anonymously interested in grasping the good life.

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