In medieval times, the religious pilgrimage was an acceptable way to get away from one's small village and see the world.
Geoffrey Chaucer, who had a wry sense of humor and extreme insight into pretense, used that journey as a platform for what became a literary classic: "The Canterbury Tales."
In the days when there were still English majors we had to read it in Middle English. But the ordeal was worth it. Long before Martin Luther had had it with the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, Chaucer saw the darkness positioned and packaged as piety.
One of his most memorable pilgrims was the character known as "The Pardoner." With a quick eye for marketing, The Pardoner knew the target market to zero in on. He went along for the trip. He sold forgiveness.
In the Roman Catholic Church, there had been a brisk business in indulgences. For a price, sinners could have their sins removed (like paying a lawyer to do what it takes to expunge your criminal record). Anyone who understands what peace of mind brings to a life would get why that niche profit center thrived.
As Chaucer chronicles, The Pardoner was a busy bee hawking indulgences. From Chaucer's account, it seems that the seller knew this was a scam. The Pardoner was canny in sizing up what buttons to press. And that whatever he was selling was not going to save any souls.
Of course, there are many versions of The Pardoner today. The very term "pardon" has a pull force. What human being doesn't want to be pardoned from the inner torment and public shame of past transgressions?
In my coaching I have found that it's often those inner demons which are the key obstacles in professional success. Here, free to download, is my book on them. An irony is that among older professionals, even those who haven't "sinned" assume they have.
Today U.S. President Donald Trump pardoned conservative Dinesh D'Souza who had served prison time. Here is an analysis of that pardoning ethos by CNN.
Contact Jane Genova email@example.com.