I grew up in the church, and one of the bible verses that I distinctly remember resonating with me so much at the time I heard it as a kid in Sunday school was this one from 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
For some reason, I used to have this deep-rooted emotional dislike of money. I am not sure where I got that from, and since then, my view has changed enough to a point where I no longer take it as far as to claim that it is the root of all evil, but I still do think that it is not particularly healthy for anyone to be attached to their money or material things.
But on the other hand, I also worry that many people (including the younger me) have such an extremely negative view of it, because I routinely notice that many of my friends lean pretty far to the left on the political spectrum, and claim bold, unfounded statements, like “Homelessness is up. It’s because of those greedy capitalists!” forgetting the fact that a switch to more capitalistic policies has lifted many people in China and India out of poverty, and free-market principles (assuming no corruption) dictate that a business cannot be successful unless they offer to the public what they deem to be valuable. There are some exceptions here, like the corrupt finance industry and the politicians that serve them, but I’ll write about that another day. Today I just want us to think about money and if it is really evil.
First of all, consider the fact that money is a very useful form of abstraction. Without it, trading goods and services in this complex global economy would be a complete mess and an impossibility. So there’s a societal value to the existence of money that we all benefit from.
In our personal lives, money, if used properly, is a very powerful thing that could transform us. For example, money can be used to give us more time. That’s because having extra money means that we have to work that much less. Given how short our lives are and how little time many of us spend with the people that we love, there’s nothing more valuable than time.
Money can also be used for investing in yourself to help fulfill your goals. You can use it to buy books to learn about a topic, or to pay the tuition of a college class that will teach you the skills you need to get to the next level in an area you are passionate about.
Here’s another example of money at work: this month, with the generous contributions from many of my coworkers, a fundraiser I sponsored raised $9919 for the Harmony Project, a non-profit organization that provides music education for inner-city youth in Los Angeles.
Money may not solve all problems, but if it helps an organization like Harmony Project reach a few more kids and allow them access to quality music education (which is not just about music, I wrote more here), and changes the life of even one kid for the better, that is huge in my eyes, because these acts are paid forward long after the initial money is gone. That one kid will go on to touch the lives of some other kids, then those kids will affect many more kids, and the chain continues indefinitely.
So while we shouldn’t be so attached to money, maybe we shouldn’t hate it either. If anything, we should embrace it for all the wonderful possibilities that come from it, and educate the youth about a healthy attitude toward it.
By the way, the offer I made to my coworkers for the fundraiser is also good for anyone reading this blog. If you donate to the Harmony Project and let me know that you did, I will personally match your contribution, which will then be matched by my employer, until the total raised amount reaches $15,000.