"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Why do we need money?

I heard today that many children think money just happens to appear out of a hole in the wall when required! Why should they not? It's logical really. When I was a little girl many moons ago I thought that as long as my mum had checks left in the checkbook then she could go to the bank and take out as much as she needed. Oh wish!
Why do we need money?
Greek Philosopher and scientist Aristotle explained in his Politics in c 330BC why money had been invented. The art of acquisition, he said, for which a currency was required, arose out of the simpler barter of goods, which he saw as quite natural and healthy. But when ‘The supply of men’s needs came to depend on more foreign sources, as men began to import for themselves what they lacked, and to export what they had in superabundance: …in this way the use of a money currency was inevitably instituted.’ And then the trouble began.
Because there is a distinction, as Aristotle pointed out, between essential and therefore laudable expenditure for the daily needs of food, shelter and clothing, and the acquisition of money for acquisition’s sake by profit associated with retail trade. The latter he censured:

"because the gain in which it results is not naturally made, but is made at the expense of other men. The trade of the petty usurer is hated with most reason: it makes a profit from currency itself, instead of making it from the process which currency was meant to serve. Currency came into existence merely as a means of exchange; usury tries to make it increase."

For good reason it seems, Aristotle did not trust money because he could see that it could feed an insatiable desire way beyond what was necessary for our needs and he saw this as unethical.He had a good point.

In addition to life’s basic survival necessities of warmth, clean air, medicine, clean water, food and housing, all human beings worldwide have a need and a human right to be free, to be respected as equals, able to choose their own destiny and to fulfill their full emotional, intellectual and spiritual potential. We are all entitled to the five basic human justices, of monetary and social justice, economic and environmental justice and of the right to peace.
But how to achieve this?
One of the reasons behind the appalling riots in English cities last summer was given as materialism. Now that should hardly be surprising. Given the huge disparity between the rich and the poor, is it any wonder that youngsters crave what they see as the material goodies flaunted by other people, as fuelled by marketing?
I believe that global justice will only come from our compassion and vulnerability and spirituality, qualities that need to be reflected in our financial housekeeping.

Satish Kumar writes: "This notion of spiritless existence can be described as materialism. All is matter; land, forests, food, water, labour, literature and art are commodities to be bought and sold in the marketplace - the world market, the stockmarket, the so-called free market… Business without spirit, trade without compassion, industry without ecology, finance without fairness, economics without equity can only bring the breakdown of society and destruction of the natural world. Only when spirit and business work together can humanity find coherent purpose." (Spiritual Imperative, in Resurgence).

Adapted from Healing this Wounded Earth 2011

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