Here is what it means to identify virtue with the possession of money. In the Introductory conversation with his audience before a 1985 performance of the song Suzanne, Leonard Cohen describes how one of his aids came up to him with a paper, told him it was just the standard music contract, and he signed it. He soon learned that he had signed away the copyright to his greatest song. In a religious mood, he says it it is probably fitting that he not make money from it. It may be the best example of divine inspiration in lyric poetry, showing how love is related to the image of God in the soul.
No one helped him. None of the business people in the audience said “this must not stand.” No lawyers lept up, no judges, but Leonard Cohen was left alone. No Warren Buffet came to promote a virtuous cause for the benefit of humanity. The shysters seize the law to use as an instrument in vice, but we, the community, sit idly by and allow this to occur. We do nothing for others with our wealth and power- sure they might have fed him-until they come for us, and it is too late. None of this rubbish is necessary if we would only stand up, but we will not, or cannot see how to stand up in the right way. The gains of the petty shyster are short lived, and involve selling ones soul and future for a handful of dirt. It is, however, a bit galling to have the rich praise themselves, deride the poor as though poverty were a surety of vice, the lack of the virtues they consider themselves to possess. And now Betsy is the Earl of Education. Useful fools.
Cohen was impoverished, and had to go back to work, giving us some of the world’s greatest poetry and performance. He may have done even more had evil not infected his life in this way. Go, you rich men, and judge of his virtue. Judge of the success of Jesus hanging on the cross. Quickly, now before the time is past.
No one helped him. No one said “This must not stand.” No one with money and power- goods that come not by virtue but by accident, if sometimes in combination with some honest effort, but for which these never cease to praise themselves, spending more time preening themselves in a mirror that will soon be broken than they do gazing into the scriptures (Paul writes Kat-optridzomai,) “as in a glass.” But Suzanne holds the mirror. And what is reflected in the mirror?
But on a lighter note, NPR reports a 1600 year old joke about a miser who willed his estate to himself. When Socrates was told that the tyrannous ones had sentenced him to death, he is reported to have said, “and nature them.”