One of the interesting things about money is that those who give the most have the least of it… in the proportional sense.  This occured to me after reading this week’s issue of Newsweek, the one featuring the future Queen of England on the cover.  Between the disparaging remarks and the highhanded forgiveness of her family’s humble beginnings by her betters, I couldn’t help but wonder who is better?  Does the possession of money convey virtue by default?

Perhaps those who have little money look enviously upon the comfortable (excessive, some might say) lifestyles of the old money guard and think that they are somehow deserving of their good fortune.  God has smiled upon them and rewarded them richly for their selflessness.  They not only live more luxurious lives, but the very life in their veins is somehow better than the average.  The royal blood, the blueblood,  all indicative of foundational differences that can never be matched by effort or ambition.  One must be born to it.

And although that claim is occasionally disputed and crowned heads are lost to blade, bullet or coup, our romantic sensibilities hold fast, and if their scattered descendants are not restored to power, then their memories of sophistication and gentility are consecrated and elevated to legend.  But why?

Is our appetite for class structure so deeply ingrained that we must have someone atop the heap?  Someone to admire, or envy, even if it’s not warranted?  Who knows… the reasons are lost in the mists of time.  But one thing is certain:  we associate virtue with money, even if we cannot act virtuously.

When I win the lottery, -after I buy a new car, clothes, a pontoon on Lake Arkansas, take my buddies to Vegas and schedule a tummy tuck and butt lift- I’m donating to the Church.

If you vote for me, I’ll use your tax dollars -to pad the bank accounts of my cronies- to improve schools and fill potholes on the interstate.

All the profits from the sale of our products -after taxes, bonuses paid to the board and CEO, and bribes paid to federal and local authorities- are reinvested in the community.

As sovereign duly annointed by God, I will devote my life to -myself- to the People.

And why do those plans go awry?  No doubt all of these persons, whether real or fictional, started with the best of intention but were sidetracked once the privy purse was opened.  They forgot or never learned that money is only a tool.  How well it is wielded depends on the mindset and skills acquired by the operator before the tool is used. 

In many ways, money is a test for virtue, rather than a virtue itself.  If you can manage it without losing your way and becoming a prisoner of it, then you pass the test and are free to move on.  Think of that Judeo-Christian parable of the widow giving away the last of her pennies at the Temple.  Others gave more, much more because they had more, but no one save the poor widow gave it all away. 

Would you?


2 Responses to “THE VIRTUE OF MONEY”

  1. Another excellent article that Bill’s pointed us in the direction of.

    And I agree with the thoughts and questions in it wholeheartedly. Many years ago I was an active member of Liverpool’s local Greenpeace group, and anytime we went out with our rattling cans collecting money, it was always those with less of it (students, the unemployed etc) that gave more, proportionally.

    I think that money is a tool for keeping the well off, well off, and the poorer, poor. In Robert Tressell’s brilliant social commentary, “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”, there’s a chapter titled The Money Trick, which outlines how capitalism (money) does exactly that. I’ll have to blog that sometime…

    As for the gentry and their inherited wealth… they’re very welcome to it. Money does NOT maketh man – except to make him a greater idiot when he can’t handle it. As you put it so well, money is a test FOR virtue. That line jumped out as the perfect nutshell for your entire post Kim. 🙂

    And the Royals? Well. Here in America it seems you can’t get enough of them, whereas in England, unless you live in London and the outskirts, we don’t really care all that much, lol! My residents at work keep asking me if I’m going to the wedding. I tell them no – they forgot to invite me and so I’ve deleted William and Kate from my Facebook contacts, 😉

    I DO hope that Kate (who seems a genuinely nice woman) manages to keep herself above the pit falls of being a Royal. Remembering her “humble” roots will stand her in good stead to be a GREAT Queen when that time comes.

    • Thanks, Susan! It’s also my hope she will not lose herself and encourage William to actually be a king, instead of acting the part. 🙂

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