The love of money

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For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV)

Money.

What emotions and feelings does the word ‘money’ evoke in your heart and mind? Does it conjure up fear, excitement, despair, pleasure, stress, or desire? Sometimes it seems that we are involved in a desperate, dysfunctional love affair with money. If we don’t have any, we pine for it; if we have a little, we demand more; if we have a lot, we live fearfully thinking that someone is going to take it from us.

“Nobody ever has enough of you….
But one can have too much of everything else
Of love, bread, sweets, honour…
But nobody’s ever got enough of you!
Give 13 talents [coins]to anyone
All the more he’ll want 16
Give him 16 and he’ll want 40
Or he’ll say life isn’t worth living”
Wealth’ – Aristophanes (338 BC)

Is it really wrong to love money? Should we only aspire for goodness and world peace like a naive beauty contestant, or is it acceptable to be prosperity conscious? I believe that the answer to this dilemma lies in the less-quoted second part of the Bible passage: “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” In other words, do you crave money so much that you’ll do anything to get it?

For the love of money
People will steal from their mother
For the love of money
People will rob their own brother
For the love of money
People will lie, Lord, they will cheat
For the love of money
People don’t care who they hurt or beat
For The Love of Money – O’Jay’s

(Also known as the ‘Money, Money, Money’ song, popularized on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice).

Just like in a real-life love affair, it’s only when passion for money turns to obsession, that the root nurtures a plant bearing bad fruit. What are some of the anti-social behaviours and evil deeds that can develop when you allow money-lust to rule your life?

1. Corruption:    You accept bribes and turn a blind eye to criminal activities. You sacrifice your integrity by taking kickback payments that give unfair business advantage to some. You make underhand payouts that compromise the rule of law.

2.   Abuse: You allow yourself to be exploited in return for money. You accept ill-treatment and violence to pay your bills or to retain social status.

3.  Greed: You make unwise investments with money you shouldn’t risk, in search of improbable returns. You sabotage the progress of others so that they don’t threaten your livelihood.

4.  Crime: You use your talents to beat the system and cheat others. If you don’t have it and don’t want to work for it, you steal to get it. You will even kill to get what isn’t yours.

How did this symbol of exchange, which we use to pay for the goods and services we need, get such pride of place in our lives anyway? Is it really the money itself that we worship, or do we idolize what it can bring to our lives? As the saying goes, ‘Money talks”- when you have lots of it, people sit up, pay attention and listen to you. In our materialistic world, money really represents power, influence, status and respect – most of the things that the human heart desires.

It may be that our obsession with money can only be cured if our society stops placing undue emphasis on wealth as the indicator of a person’s true worth. In research done in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, this interesting data about first-year college students was revealed: “The majority (79%) of freshmen in 1970 had a personal objective of “developing a meaningful philosophy of life.”By 2005, 75% said their primary objective was “being very well off financially.”

What if society placed more value on education and achievement instead of monetary worth? What if there was easier and cheaper access to important resources? Would we still have an obsessive love affair with money?

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” -Maya Angelou

Copyright © 2008 Cherryl Hanson Simpson

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