Below is an article taken from the Sunday Times Of India;of the 5th July 2009. The author Mohini Kent has very perfectly described how money power rules the human world. I agree with her thoughts as something very similar I have written in my book Zero2Dot; details of which can be read on website: www.zero2dot.org
I call it the “Money Sanskar”; it being so powerful that all other humanitarian values take a back seat, when one is confronted with money power. It controls all our senses and decision making.
Though this article may seem long at first glance, the author Mohini Kent has written a very interesting view point and is an eye opener. Please take the effort to read till the very end.
* SUNDAY TIMES OF INDIA, MUMBAI; JULY 5 2009
WHAT’S YOUR MONEY’S WORTH?
A day before the government presents the budget and Indians get to know whether they are richer or poorer, Mohini Kent finds out the true value of wealth
“If a man is wealthy, (it means) he is handsome and wise and he can sing well too”. That’s a Yiddish proverb but it could be applied anywhere in the world, with wealthy people expressing ‘strong’ opinions on every thing under the sun – be it the money markets, food or fashion. Money seems to confer the highest caste on people; they become the new ‘brahmins’ and are seen to hold the key to wisdom. We listen to them attentively, hoping some of the magic will rub off on us.
Money has become as vital to us as the air we breathe. It became indispensable to us the day we stopped barter. No doubt, it has been instrumental in improving our lives and made the world far more democratic because anyone can buy anything today in exchange for a piece of paper.
Today the poor can afford what even the rich found difficult in the past – foreign travel, for instance.
It is one of the major energies of the world, along with sex; although in many cases, the two go together. Even remote tribals who still live in a “moneyless world” feel the force of money when outsiders use paper currency to buy their land and are granted the right to fell their forests.
So, what do we do? Make money, spend it and enjoy it. In the meantime, it is vital to recognize our relationship with money and how it colours our relationship with others, including those most dear to us. Money is not just a piece of printed paper or a round, stamped metal disc; it has acquired enormous emotional connotations and psychological hues. A poor boy, who has had a deprived childhood, can never fill the hole in his belly even if he makes millions later in life. A wealthy child who lost all his money in childhood, will hoard every penny as an adult.
Money spells power, control, comfort and security. Wealth has become the yardstick of success. Exclusive homes, private jets and yachts, seven-star holidays, designer labels and pricey hand bags give us a sense of superiority. Fawning friends and the envy of peers makes having money even more satisfying. It gives control in the boardroom and at times, it gives the power to enslave others.
In India, money is inseperable from political power. Some people derive power from hoarding money like Silas Marner, who counted his gold coins alone on dark nights.
Sometimes, money is equated with love. People use it to control their families, spouse and children. For favoured family members, the sky is the limit, but money is withheld from the one’s who need to be subjugated. Cruel husbands use it to penalize their wives; domineering parents use it to control their children.
Micheal Jackson had little control over his money. He earned more than one-billion dollars but died with a debt of at least $400 million. It was an unedifying spectacle to see his family, just hours after his tragic death, searching for the cash stashed in his house. In her moving tribute to the pop idol, Germaine Greer wrote: “Another beautiful boy is gone, wiped out in an instant. Micheal Jackson, unable to cross the threshold into manhood, has died at 50, still a boy, coquettish, fantasy-ridden, horribly vulnerable, unable to take control of his life.”
Sometimes it seems as if a man’s most enduring love affair is with money, his own money and that of others. It’s an obsession, almost an occult possession by another entity. In its pursuit, men and women can become ruthless, even evil. The latest banking crisis in the US was driven by greed. Nothing justifies the million-dollar bonuses that bankers paid themselves even though the bank was not making money. Now Brian Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years in prison. It is estimated that about $50 billion went astray during his career. It’s almost as much a the GDP of a small country. Madoff’s jail term won’t bring back to life the people who committed suicide after they found out that he had swindled them. The prison sentence won’t change reality for the New York woman who lost all her savings and is now reduced to rummaging in garbage cans for food.
Rich men use money to cheat death by trying to buy ‘immortality’. Some of the foundations they run have less to do with compassion and more to do with their personal wish to perpetuate their names. It’s extremely rare for anyone to voluntarily give up money and power. Andrew Carnegie was that rare individual. He wondered “what to do with the enormous wealth we have” and wrote that surplus wealth could be disposed off in three ways:
* left to family
* bequeathed for a public purpose
* administered in one’s lifetime
Traditionally, people opt for one of the first two but Carnegie concluded that an individual should “set an example of unostentatious living; provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependant on him; and, after doing so, to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds” to be used for the good of the community. The man of wealth then becomes a trustee and agent for his poor fellow men.
Carneigie knew all about poverty. He was born in a one room cottage in Scotland. His family immigrated to America, where he took up his first job at 13 years in a cotton mill. In a classic rags-to-riches story, he built a profitable empire of steel (which later became US Steel) and became the world’s second richest man, after Rockefeller. After sometime, Carnegie sold his company and devoted the resr of his life to philanthropy, building more than 3,000 libraries, schools and universities in America. He wrote: “The man who dies rich dies disgraced”. By the time he died in 1919, he had given away the bulk of his vast fortune. In India, JRD Tata did something similar.
Money can bring us joy; it can bring us misery; it can buy us attention, isolate us; binds families or split them. Though it is merely a piece of paper or a metal coin, it is the most powerful and emotive thing in the world. Whether you earn Rs 3,000 or Rs 3 crore a month, you still have to understand money, build a healthy relationship with it, realize its true value and purpose.