Money, the Root of All Evil?

I am sure you have heard the expression, “Money is the root of all evil.” Is it? What is it about money that creates this impression? Can money truly be evil? Can money actually corrupt someone? Can an inanimate object really be sinful? Money is nothing more than a token, a means of exchange, a way to obtain things without having to barter a service. With a barter system, you would purchase services and items with a service you would perform, or with an exchange of a usable commodity. You might go to the doctor and pay with a chicken. The system was cumbersome, the item often unwanted and quite often not very equitable.

Along came a brilliant person who thought of a different type of exchange. An exchange that would not result in the barter of services for services, item for item or service for item. This person developed an exchange system that everyone would be willing to accept. Voila, the creation of money. Now, people can sell their services and products for money. This system of exchange eliminated the cumbersome aspect of barter, eliminated unwanted exchanges and allowed items to be priced equitably. With money, you can purchase whatever you want, given you have enough. The barter system has simply moved from a direct exchange of services and or products to an abstract concept: money.

Money is an abstraction because it has absolutely no value, no meaning, no intrinsic worth except what society gives it. Society says it has value, and therefore it has value. Now, money is not just some inanimate object of no value. In psychology, money would be called a generalized reinforcer. It is a reinforcer because people are willing to work to get it, and it is generalized because once obtained, it can purchase almost anything you want, as long as you have enough of it. Many psychiatric hospitals use a treatment modality called a token economy to help encourage people to participate in treatment, social programs, individualized treatment plans and any other specified behaviors. These people earn or lose tokens: poker chips, points, play money, etc., depending on the behaviors emitted. The psychiatric facilities that use token economies have significantly altered the behavior of those involved. Does this sound familiar? It should, it is the same type of system society has been using for a very long time. Think about it for a moment, has society’s token economy altered your behavior? How many things do you do that you say you do not want to do, but you want the money, so you do it?

A generalized reinforcer such as money is one of the most powerful tools in the game of control. Powerful, not because of what it is, but because of the power you give it and because what it can get you. The more money you have, the more things you can purchase. You can purchase anything from food, to clothes, to having things done your way and even people. This is called power, control, clout! Money did not create the power, the control or even the corruption; it was present long before money was ever invented. It was created by man's ego. The moment people began desiring, wanting, expecting, needing and hoping; power, control and corruption presented themselves.

The fact is that money does not corrupt. You corrupt yourself, via your ego through your mind. The important ingredient behind the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil,” is your wanting, desiring, expecting, hoping, needing and the list goes on. “The more I get, the more I want, the more I want, the more I need. The more I need, the more I must have.” The more you have, the more controlled you become by the wanting, and therefore by the money. Money now becomes the key ingredient to your happiness.

Money is not evil; your ego makes it evil. It is your wanting a new car, wanting a new boat, wanting women, wanting men, wanting love, wanting control, wanting power, wanting this or that. Have you ever seen a bumper sticker that says, “The one who has the most toys wins?”

People have been blaming who and what they are on outside forces for millennia. It is so much easier to blame money for your unhappiness. It is your ego’s desiring, wanting, needing and hoping for that which is unobtainable that creates your unhappiness. “If only I had more money, I would really be happy. If only I could buy that car, then I would really be happy. If I only had the power to have it done my way, then I would be happy.” People are like the proverbial donkey chasing a carrot that is dangling in front of his face. "Just a little bit further, and I will reach happiness."

Happiness is not something that is to be attained. Happiness is not something that can be pursued, as the Bill of Rights suggests. Happiness is not something that can come from outside of yourself. Only when what you have does not equal what you want do you experience unhappiness, frustration, anger or a burning need to obtain. Once again, psychology has aptly named this phenomenon, deprivation. It is this deprivation, this needing, this wanting, this expecting that creates the evil, which is associated with money.

Happiness can only happen when you allow it to happen. Happiness can only come from within you. It is always within you, not in things outside yourself. Things get old, but what you have inside lives forever. Happiness is your birthright. Drop all the ugly mind trips and rejoice in who you are and with what you have. Money will then become a servant to you, rather than your being a servant to it. Money is something that can be enjoyed. The things that money can buy are things to enjoy. As long as your mind is not being controlled by what you want, desire and expect, you can enjoy this moment.

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