Money and Morality

Buddha and Birds

Money and Morality
by Satish Kumar
Resurgence Magazine
January/February 2012

Money was a clever and convenient invention; it was designed as a means of exchange and a measure of wealth. But somehow that has changed; what was once solely a means to an end has become the end in itself; and what was a measure of wealth has become wealth itself.

Take for example agriculture, the purpose of which was to produce nutritious food whilst ensuring that the land remained in good heart for all future generations and for good health of biotic communities. Agriculture was a way of life that gave farmers their dignity, and in turn they cultivated the crops with tender loving care and considered their work intrinsically good.

Then came money, which changed everything: agriculture turned into agribusiness and the paramount purpose of it became the making of money. Food became a commodity and yet another means of making large profits. As a result British farmers – even those with 2000 acres of land – cannot make a living, and farm labourers are paid ten pounds an hour whilst bankers are paid one thousand pounds an hour.

The example of agriculture turned to agribusiness is only one illustration of how our society has lost sight of right and wrong. We can cut down the rainforest to make money, we can pollute the rivers and over-fish the oceans for profit, we can destroy the local economy in search of cheaper goods, no matter how much CO2 is omitted in the process. The bottom line always comes first. We can hire and fire people at will for the sake of boosting the economy; people have become little more than the instruments of making money. GM crops, nuclear energy, cloning and animal experimentation – nothing is forbidden, just as long as it adds to the GNP and increases the share value of corporations and companies.

Ethics, moral and human dignity are all secondary and subservient to the profit margin. Bankrupt bankers have to be bailed out even though we can all see that they and other business leaders are utterly incapable of solving the economic crises. Politicians and policymakers have to obey their desires.

No wonder then that our governments are completely incapable of creating conditions for the stability and wellbeing of people – because all social, political, educational and communal values exist solely to serve economic growth, which simply means growth in money supply, in GNP and consumption.

As long as we are wedded to this financial paradigm and its money model, the strong will exploit the weak, and our social and environmental fabric (and morals) will continue to fall apart.

The current economic crises gives us an opportunity to look deeper and examine the consequences of confusing the means with the ends. Money has a place, of course, but we must keep it in its place and not allow it to dominate our lives in such a manner that we lose all our bearings and become its slaves. Money was made to serve people, not the other way around. Unfortunately, we have allowed money to become the master and override all other moral, ethical and ecological values. There is more to life than an endless pursuit of money and profit.

Money is not wealth; real wealth is land, forest, rivers, animals and people. Wealth is created by the imagination, creativity and skill. Bankers and business leaders in search of ever-increasing profit are not the wealth creators; at best they are wealth counters, and at worse wealth destroyers. So let’s honour the true wealth creators: the skilled workers, architects and artists, craftsmen and women, teachers and doctors, builders and farmers; the economy is safe in their hands. Let us respect the generous Earth and wild Nature, the eternal source of well-being and prosperity. If we take care of people and Nature, then the economy will take care of itself.

Some people might say that this is too idealistic; but what have the realists done? They have made a complete mess of the world economy. Normally, we need idealism and realism in equal measure, but for the time being a little extra idealism will be helpful. We have had far too much realism.

Money must be guided by morality. And we are delighted to present this ideal in this issue of Resurgence, the first of a brand new year.

Satish Kumar
Resurgence Magazine

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Resurgence cover Jan 2012

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3 Responses to Money and Morality

  1. cosmicray says:

    Thanx Albe, I think idealists are too soft to overcome the realists who use their wealth and force,
    including the Bankers, politicians,military and police,to impose their ideas and will on the rest
    of Humanity because they think they can,and so far they can!
    But as the Arab Spring is showing us, ‘the times they are a-changing’ and the Global Financial
    Crisis,even tho the corrupt banking system was rescued by our Governments at the cost to millions of ordinary people, we are witnessing some form of planetary shake-up!
    But what will we replace it with?
    There are too many trapped on the work treadmill to suddenly change our Society,and there
    are too many new Nations aspiring to what we have,not realising that we are seeing what has
    long been described as ‘the end of days!’ cos as sure as the Sun rises each day,there is no way
    9 billion people can live on this small Planet at the current rate of consumption!
    Jim Morrison said’They have the guns but we have the numbers’ but we all have to eat and
    have shelter and get married and have kids,so until someone comes up with a feasible idea
    or alternative this is what we are stuck with and we can only accept our responsibilities and
    alter our level of consumption and pray that our Karma effort is recognised in our next life!!
    Cos no amount of money is going to help us on the Other Side!! Lots of love,Razen

  2. Ryan says:

    Thanks for posting this Albe! Sums up the dilemma the world faces right now in the face of greed. Beautiful photo which puts it all into perspective: the awareness of the simple beauty of nature being the greatest wealth one can ever own or acheive. Much love! Ryan

  3. cosmicray says:

    PS And it is going to be interesting to see how China,which is holding Trillions!! of the nations
    of the worlds paper money,handles the oncoming 2nd Global Financial Crisis! when there is not
    enuff work to support a dwindling demand for its cheaply manufactured products!!
    They already have over a million empty apartments,too expensive to purchase by the ordinary
    Chinese worker!!
    Welcome to the Western nightmare!!
    It may be back to the countryside to start living naturally again,for 500 million Chinese workers!

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