How to best help others ? The departure of Aurelius
A dialogue between Aurelius the angel and Charmide and Mickael, the deer. Aurelius wants to be the guardian of classical Judeo-Christian thought while remaining attentive and compassionate. Charmide and Mickael prefer to flee than to fight. Charmide thinks that temperance is the best rule of life; Mickael is wary of the power which always seeks to enslave.
Charmide: here comes Aurelius!
Mickael: I wonder what he is going to tell us …
Aurelius: dear friends, hello, how are you?
Charmide: very well, Aurelius, but you are very formal all of a sudden, what’s going on?
Mickael : and your wings seem all crumpled!
Aurelius: I asked God to call me back to him.
Charmide: but you are immortal, what’s the point?!
Mickael: do you want to leave us?
Aurelius: after all that I have I’ve learned lately, I think Luce was right, I should have gone to God’s meetings more often. You have to understand what’s going on in the world and know others to be able to help them the best. I let myself go, now I need a refresher so I asked for an internship.
Charmide: but who will take care of the domain?
Mickael: you will be missed.
Aurelius: God will send a substitute.
Charmide: a substitute! It is not possible! Will he or she be as temperate and benevolent as you, as calm and discreet? These are rare qualities that you have that make you unique.
Mickael: and you never use your knowledge to dominate us. It is precious.
Aurelius: you flatter me but I nevertheless failed in my task out of vanity or blindness and I cannot go on like this.
Charmide: what surprises us is that you came to tell us that.
Mickael: we are not really your best subjects.
Aurelius: well, to be honest with you, I came to check if what Squirrel told me about you was really true.
Charmide: that we are gay?
Mickael: well, it’s true and it feels good to be able to say it.
Aurelius: your confession shows me that I no longer see things as they are and that I no longer know how to manage them. Probably because of my backward ideas.
Charmide: come on, Aurelius, don’t beat yourself up. You are good and honest, the proof is that you came to see us and told us your remorse. This is also what enables you to know how to help others: you pay attention to them.
Mickael: you let yourself live a little without worrying about changes in society, that’s all.
Aurelius: I naively thought that moral rules were immutable, which gave them their force of law, and that therefore I did not had nothing more to learn; I was wrong and that’s why I have to do an internship.
Charmide: you will always be a source of thought for us, Aurelius, even if we didn’t always listen to you. Your general attitude toward life is a model.
Mickael: a kind of moral compass. It is when you do not want to help us that you are most effective because your behavior inspires us instead of making us dependent on you. This is how help should be understood: to suggest a model without imposing it. To show what wisdom is.
Aurelius: don’t fool yourselves, the only true sage is the one who loves God and I have loved myself a little too much lately, to the point of believing myself to be omniscient.
Charmide: you are too critical of yourself! Your kindness has never left you even when what you said did not suit us. And we still want to benefit from it. We have something to ask you since you are here and you know much more than us about the things of the world.
Mickael: we want to start a family and we would like to adopt.
Aurelius: you are testing me!
Charmide: not at all, we were just wondering if you would have heard of orphan fawns.
Mickael: because as you can guess, we have little means to reproduce by ourselves!
Aurelius: family and adoption, these are two areas where I have always liked to intervene; it makes my flock happy and it follows the divine commandments. Yet in your case, I ‘d prefer to consult with God before.
Charmide: but haven’t you any idea ?
Mickael: come on, Aurelius, help us before leaving…
Aurelius: I know that in the hunting fields, it sometimes happens that a doe is killed and that its young are left alone but I cannot promise anything and I have not told you anything. If you want to go and see, choose your day wisely so as not be the game yourselves.
Charmide: Aurelius, you are our savior!
Mickael: it is sure that what you have just told us will count as a favorable point for you when you will come close to God.
Aurelius: we will see, my friends, we will see. I’m not sure you’re good judges in this matter but anyway, good luck to you,
Charmide: thank you and good luck to you too.
Mickael: send us visions from time to time so that we know how you are doing!
Can we help others if we do not know them?
For Aurelius, it seemed that it was possible in the name of universal principles but he realizes that in doing so, he makes errors in judgment because the general does not always concern the particular.
For Charmide, temperance is what makes it possible to be open to others and therefore to know how to help them. For Mickael, help carries with it the possibility of domination because it makes others accountable. It’s therefore better to suggest a model while leaving others free to make their own choices.
Is it a moral duty to keep abreast of worldly things ?
Why is temperance considered a cardinal virtue?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, Charmides, where Plato tries to define temperance – mainly by what it is not.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Aurelius, Charmide and Mickael ? Their favorite books are in the domain library.