Sunday 23 November 2014


In the air there are foul and pestilent emanations, the waters are unhealthy, navigation perilous, winters harsh, the heat of summer unbearable, …and many diseases derived from food.
As in pollution and climate change? No, wait, we are talking 1526. Oh, they had those problems then, too?
Who could enumerate the kinds of poisons and black arts that conspire for man’s mutual destruction? So many weapons against a body so weak that a grape or even a grape pip stuck in his throat can choke him, and some people are suddenly carried off to their deaths for reasons unknown.
So much for the environment in 1526. And the people? Just as nasty.
They are driven by the wish to be superior to others and, worse than that, by the instinct to oppress, so that they can live a life of leisure and profit from the labours of others.
Sound familiar? Read on.
They hold all the power and are surrounded by a gang whom they have recruited by trickery or fear to support their tyranny.
And they think the only good thing is money.
Hence the common phrase: What was the benefit of that? What was the advantage of that?
But Vives wants you to change your attitude. Think beyond money.  If you want to benefit others, don’t give them cash. 
The most important and greatest good deed is to help another in the exercise of virtue…and to educate that most lofty part of man, the mind.
Give with no regard to usefulness!
So, please: not another word about soup kitchens.

(Source: Juan Luis Vives, De subventione pauperum, trans. C. Fantazzi)

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