The Float on the River Styx
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The Float on the River Styx • Posted: Oct 10, 2008 09:54:11Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

In business, there is always a period of time between delivery of goods or service and the instant the check clears and is credited to the seller's bank account. Until that moment, the business exists in a kind of limbo wherein assets have been expended in the expectation of a return on investment. Prepayment in full is one way to avoid this period of limbo. But then the table is turned and the purchaser is forced to live in limbo until the actual goods or services are delivered. Mutually distrusting parties sometimes prefer to arrange prepayment to a disinterested third party or escrow fund that only releases deposited funds to the seller upon delivery. eBay works this way with the intervening agency of PayPal. Multiply this whole problem a few trillion fold and we can begin to get a sense of the current problem cresting in the world-wide credit markets. Very few folks are willing to chance enduring that floaty emotion filled period of limbo wherein institutions or individuals might fail to deliver as promised, investments can be lost, and stepping stones to safer havens can suddenly disappear from sight.

Without trust and charity, the world of human interaction becomes a cold and cruel place, a place few of us would willingly choose to live. Within Greek mythology false oath sworn by the River Styx earns 9 years in Tartarus, the deepest darkest dampest most isolating dungeon of Hades. The River Styx, of course, is one of five mythical rivers separating the land of the living from the land of the dead, Hades. The name Styx is the Greek word for hateful. Without trust and charity we condemn ourselves to life in Tartarus. We must overcome hate, cross the River Styx, to enter more palatable areas in the land of the dead.

On the other hand, to give or to trust without thought to consequence is irresponsible to both self and others. Loss is inevitable. Innate wisdom disallows helping others if doing so would seriously undermine one's own viability. The choice is not always clearly black or white. Charity is the prudent measure of giving in such a way as to not critically undermine the viability of the giver. Trust implies a hopeful willingness to risk loss, in balance with faith that if necessary loss can be endured.

But does accepting help in the form of loan or adjustment in price or contract imply an oath by the River Styx to repay in kind or suffer 9 years in Tartarus? Clearly, in the minds of some it does.

Thursday, June 12th, 2008
Fergus Falls