Men Without Chests in Washington and on Wall Street

Ken Connor’s column today at begins with one of my favorite quotes.

It is from a C.S. Lewis book called The Abolition of Man:

We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful.

When Lewis talks of “men without chests,” the “chest” refers to that area between the head and the heart (or perhaps belly–signifying “want”–is more apt) that combines intellect and emotion into a coherent and useful force for good.

Connor uses it very aptly to begin his discussion of the current financial meltdown.

We have spent the last 15 years or so decrying morality and virtue, and then we claim surprise that we would find corruption and malfeasance in our government-managed financial industry.

We have spent the last 15 years or so saying that private moral standards have no bearing on public service, and then we are indignant when those same private moral failings manifest themselves publicly.

What is wrong with us?

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