Money. Few people seem to have enough, whether they have $20 or $20 billion dollars. Money has been credited with meanings like power, security, oppression, opportunity, selfishness, freedom, manipulation, generosity. Yet money is essentially a neutral means of exchange. It makes a good servant but a poor master. Money can even rise to the role of god, and then society suffers. Many love money, but money can’t love them back.
A recent article about a glass manufacturing plant in the midwest illustrates what happens when accumulating money takes a higher role than accumulating human capital. For years this manufacturing plant operated as the main employer in a small town. Workers had high morale and the community thrived. It was then purchased by a hostile takeover.
Sold and resold to private equity firms nine times in three decades, the company endured mergers, “greenmailing,” debt-financed buyouts, a disastrous ipo, two bankruptcies, a high dividend-led debt burden, numerous layoffs, outsourcing, name changes, wage and benefit cuts, and shut downs. Shareholder welfare took precedence over the well-being of the workers in the plant. The business continues operation at a reduced level today. But the physical plant is crumbling, having had little maintenance and no upgrades. Workers have lost their pensions, don’t know who their owner is, who the CEO currently is, and who to take suggestions or complaints to. A sense of being unimportant and insecure has demoralized the work force.
During the age of the industrial revolution, Mary Baker Eddy once wrote,
“I reluctantly foresee great danger threatening our nation, — imperialism, monopoly, and a lax system of religion.” But she also saw that the spirit of humanity, ethics, and the best of Christianity, taking strong hold of public thought would counteract the trend toward mindless accumulation of wealth over human welfare.
When financial success becomes a by-product, rather than the goal of business, mutually rewarding relationships are developed. Talents begin to shine. A healthy bottom line, while necessary, isn’t the most important thing. Not money itself, but love of money is the root of all evil, says the Bible. And love for God and man is the antidote for an inordinate love of money. Love of wealth never permanently satisfies. Putting love for God and man first actually gives a sense of “enough.”
Current economic laws favor the impersonal accumulation of wealth by investors and shareholders, but it is still possible to create a business atmosphere based on love–love for the product, the customer, fellow workers, human ingenuity, and the welfare of society at large. Even in this age of monopoly, imperialism, and a loss of ethical humanity and religion, many businesses have been able to succeed on a model based on this kind of love.
We can be rich in ideas, rich in relationships, rich in expression, rich in experience, rich in love and spirit. These riches satisfy more than impersonal money ever will. Having a sense of enoughness, of wealth in human and spiritual capital, should go hand in hand with a sense of enough funds to meet all your needs. They aren’t mutually exclusive. We need homes, food, clothes and living expenses. Just put spiritual riches first, Jesus said. “Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”