Divine intervention

April 29, 2012

I read something the other day that gave me pause, in part over the substance and in part because it showed me how different my thinking seems to be from others’.

It had to do with Paul Krugman’s “Confidence Fairy,” and he said something to the effect that people who believe in her think she’ll come as a reward for “fiscal virtue.”

I had no idea that this was the dynamic people imagined.  I assumed that people thought eventually the Confidence Fairy would come when she felt things warranted her intervention and would instill confidence in business owners out of the kindness of her heart, perhaps by re-framing things as I think the Wizard of Oz did.   Because confidence I don’t think comes to us from a sense of having been good and deserving — plenty of such people don’t have it, while plenty of people who are pretty clear on their having behaved badly have plenty of confidence — I don’t think a sense of virtue produces confidence, I think it is a frame of mind we access or not depending on other factors.

This contrast between fairy intervention on the basis of earning it through behavior and receiving it for the fairy’s own reasons led me to think about different models for divine help or intervention.  I don’t think we receive it because we racked up enough points to compel it, or that if we don’t receive it we’re not virtuous, I think a big factor is whether the desired help serves our good and the greater good.

If we need help locating our confidence, I think we can get that, but I think it probably means facing our fears rather than demonstrating our virtue.


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