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The thoughts of all evil

Commerce is dirty and money is bad. An often-heard comment by artists talking to me; a creative working part-time in advertising. I understand where they’re coming from, but I doubt it. The exchange of money can also be seen as the exchange of energy. If it’s exchanged in a good way, it’s not bad.

Recently, Neale Donald Walsh, American author of the Conversations with God series, wrote about this subject:

As part of our Old Cultural Story many humans have been told that money is the root of all evil. Money is bad and God is good, and so money and good do not mix. One result of this teaching: The higher one’s purpose in life, and the greater one’s value to society, the lower one’s income must be. Hence nurses, teachers, public-safety officials, and those in similar service professions are not to ask to earn much money. Ministers, rabbis, priests and other clergy are to ask even less. Homemakers and mothers, under this guideline, should have no personal income at all, for they may be the most selfless in service to others. Because money is bad, intrinsically evil, pay must be in reverse proportion to the value of the function performed. The better the deed, the worse the pay.” Of course, we can fill ‘artists’ in between the lines ourselves.

Now we’re finding ourselves in the paradox where good things are not well compensated and bad things are. The work of God should be done for free and the arts are not given many subsidies anymore, while illegal activity might be the best-paid job in the world. People in this society are not willing to pay for good things anymore, but paying whatever it costs to consume bad things, like tobacco.

So money is bad and something good cannot be exchanged for something bad. Well, we did! This summer, we exchanged money for a bit of awareness, at the Black Rock Desert branch of the Exchanghibition Bank. Of course, the Zero Note can be seen as money (bad), but also as a stunning piece of Dadara art (good), so in that case we exchanged the good for the good. We made people aware of what they had done for or with their money, which wasn’t necessarily good for themselves, their loved ones, the environment and so on. And of the fact that they could make better choices regarding their money. We changed their thoughts about money.

And maybe that’s what’s needed: a change of thoughts. How bad money works in our society nowadays, is a consequence of our ancient cultural thoughts of money being bad. In that case, we should turn our thoughts around. What can be bad about money is the way you got the money or the things you spend your money on. It’s not the money itself. Maybe, in order to rewrite our cultural thoughts, we should perceive money as something good. As a motor for good things to happen. At the end of this line of thought, we would be finding ourselves in a society where the people with the highest purpose in life and the greatest value, are rewarded the most.


7 thoughts on “The thoughts of all evil

  1. Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard stated 'Boredom is the root of all evil' , so if we follow the logic of the article above: 'Because boredom is bad, intrinsically evil, boredom must be in reverse proportion to the value of the function performed', thus housewives, nurses, priests etc would have wild, exciting lives…….hmmmm. But of course this would work for artists :-)

  2. 1. In the Christian culture it was less the money itself, which was seen as bad, it was more the interest rate, which was evil and therefore forbidden. In the Muslim culture it is still forbidden to pay an interest rate, instead banks pay you a share of the profit.

    2. I can’t agree to this generalization: “People in this society are not willing to pay for good things anymore.” It is not true, because there are more and more people, who are willing to pay for good thing, if they are informed and do have a choice. A lot of initiative like FAIR TRADE, FSC, other Eco-Labels, and so on are counting on the so-called “consumer power” to change things to the better. The Exchanghibition Bank with its Zero note can be seen as part of this broader movement, an artistic approach to change the mind set of people.

    • It's indeed interesting that Interest used to be considered Evil. As found in Leviticus 25:36-37 36 Take thou no interest of him or increase, but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. 37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon interest, nor give him thy victuals for increase.

      Somehow the focus on Evil shifted from Interest to Money itself – Lucky Bankers :-)

  3. It's like you are saying that money is the way that all things are valued. But that it is only so if you look upon it in a macro economic, systematic way. If you look at it from a personal perspective (from person to person, or a small system like a family, a group or a neighborhood) money is never the way to value things or eachother. In those smaller systems it is all about the exchange of information on how we value things together (actually: that's what makes it a system). This is why the 'good', the real value can never be put a financial value upon: it is invaluable. The pay-off occurs by the form of love. To go short: you don't need money for the really important stuff. That is, as long as the small systems are strong enough to support eachother. Therefore, i'm interested what the bill of 2012 project will do: do people want to start changing the world, start supporting their own some more?

  4. I find the topic of "good" vs "evil" very stimulating and fascinating, especially in the context of money…

    I personally believe that "money" can be used for good or evil and that it is the intention of the individual/s that drive the "will" of the "money".

    I also find it incredibly important to point out that "money" is never sited as the "root of all evil" in the Bible. This is a very BIG miss quote. The actual passage from the Bible refers to the "love of money" not the "money" itself.

    Passage 1 Timothy 6:10:
    10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

    In this context I believe that the "root of all evil" is not merely money but the "miss-placed faith" humans have placed on money.

    Like "Joors Truly" mentioned, "money" is only one form of "value"; and I would completely agree that things of real importance could never be accurately described in terms of "money".

    For me, the major nexus of the issue is where an individual’s love/faith lies. Does it lie with the money or does it lie with the abstract concept of what the money represents? After all the money in a fiat system does not represent anything other than debt and paper.

  5. As the son of a fundamentalist christian minister, I often notice that the words "the love of…" are often omitted from the remaining biblical quote "…money is the root of all evil". When this misquote occurs, the meaning of the words change entirely.

    I'm no longer a christian, but I do place great value in the words of Jesus and I also happen to work as an agent of change within the financial services industry. In the United States the gap between rich and poor has now widened dramatically, and back in the day Jesus spent much more time talking about concern for the poor than so many other politicized issues his modern followers often dwell on. To make progress, I believe we must stop feeding the wealth-divide by pretending that money has it's own moral compass. The people that use money are the ones who are expected to make the moral decisions, with regard to how they use this medium of exchange. Money is just information, and the way we use it communicates or accomplishes more than our words or beliefs ever could.

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