“Often it happens that the governance is given to the good that a restraint may be put upon superfluity of wickedness. To others providence assigns some mixed lot suited to their spiritual nature; some it will plague lest they grow rank through long prosperity; others it will suffer to be vexed with sore afflictions to confirm their virtues by the exercise and practice of patience. Some fear overmuch what they have strength to bear; others despise overmuch that to which their strength is unequal. All these it brings to the test of their true self through misfortune. …
“As to the other side of the marvel, that the bad now meet with affliction, now get their heart’s desire, this, too, springs from the same causes.” ~Boethius
Governance to the Good
If only it were true that only the good get to govern others, either in government positions, or as business leaders. Sadly, it isn’t. In most of the world today, we either have despots who rule by force and by fear, or some form of democracy where we have to choose among those who decide to run for office. In the business field, if it isn’t by inheritance, it is often the most greedy and the most ruthless who rise to the top.
Plato said that those who choose to run for political office prove by doing so that they are unfit for such office. As a general rule, I agree with him. There are rare exceptions, but usually those who run for office do so because they believe they are better than others, more suited to make decisions for them than they can make for themselves. This is almost always an egotistical belief that is not backed by any facts.
Boethus says some who achieve great prosperity (wealth), grow rank because of it. This should not be taken literally. Wealthy people generally don’t smell bad. But many of them do become rotten in a figurative way. They start to value money over people. They value man-made luxuries over the gifts of nature. As a result, they have no qualms about destroying the land to get the gems and gold beneath it. They have no concern for the people who are harmed, sometimes even killed, as a result of their greed. That is how they are “rank”. Of course, Boethus may have meant one of the other definitions of “rank”, but I think the one meaning offensive in odor is the most appropriate for what he was implying.
Boethus says that good people may be plagued with difficulties to prevent them from falling into such a state. We should remember that when we have difficulties. Sometimes, it is just demons having fun with us. Other times, we are being taught a lesson. Continue reading “Governance By the Good Needs Governance of Self”