Straight talk about money

Money locked up in chains and padlocked

On our journey towards prosperity it is vitally important that we understand the role of money. Now that may seem obvious in that you might think that to be more prosperous you just need more money. To quote the title of one of the books in my office, The Trick to Money is Having Some! by Stuart Wilde. But the amount of money you have is not as important as how you treat what you have.

Money often gets a bad press and there is that misquoted Bible verse ‘money is the root of all evil’. Many of my readers will be aware, however, that the verse actually states ‘the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’.

Money, after all, is simply an inanimate object that we can use for good or bad in the same way that the internet is not good or bad in itself but in the wrong hands can certainly be used for great evil.

The way we are taught about the emergence of money from a historical perspective does not help us to think about it correctly. We are taught that money first appeared when barter in the market place became so complex that we needed tokens to facilitate the various exchanges. That is a complete fabrication. The historical evidence shows that many types of objects were given or exchanged to mark an important relationship or moment. Beads, teeth, cattle and shells were given or exchanged to mark marriages, visits, political alliances, ceremonial sacrifices and so on.

The truth is that money appeared in the first place to facilitate human relationships not to facilitate trade and business.  The objects used in this way also became used to help trade.  This subject is dealt with in depth by William Bloom in his excellent book, Money, Heart and Mind.

Did you know that the only man Jesus ever called a fool was the rich farmer?  He allowed his money and possessions to dominate his life and thinking.  He did not possess wealth rather wealth possessed him.  He allowed his ever growing wealth to make inroads into his moral personality.

It was Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England at the beginning of the 17th Century, who said – ‘Money is like muck – not good except it be spread.’

Money needs to flow and move and in this respect it is like water.  When water is stagnant it becomes a smelly mess.  Allow it to move again and it can soon return to its healthy state.

Within the family unit there is usually little hesitation in letting material things flow.  It is part of the natural affection of human beings to share material objects and wealth.  The family unit is a small social system in which generosity and sharing are normal.  We need to see that others outside of our immediate family are part of the same human race.

Many people cling to their money, worrying about their finances and this creates an attitude of poverty-consciousness.  Anyone who has ever started or managed a business knows the necessity of letting capital flow into areas of risk so that there can be change and growth.

Being prosperous I would suggest, therefore, has less to do with the amount of money we have and more to do with the attitude with which we view ourselves and our lives.  The key to an abundant lifestyle is to maintain that sense of prosperity.  This then allows us to be more confident in our generosity to others.

Can we be more creative about our use of money?

1) Bearing in mind how money emerged it would be great if we could first of all acknowledge the human being with whom we are transacting when we buy anything. After all, there is no business in the world that is not made up of family, friends and colleagues. This may be the checkout person in the supermarket, the shop assistant, the waiter in the restaurant or even the person we cannot see when transacting on eBay.
2) During lockdown many have found themselves appreciating the natural world that bit more. There seems to be more of it in evidence and if we have taken to doing long walks in the country we have no doubt appreciated the peace and slower pace of life. We should continue with our appreciation of the world around even as we return to our new ‘normal’ and make it a habit to be thankful for everything we have and for the abundance of the universe.
3) If we are not used to letting our money flow we would gain a lot of pleasure from directing some of our wealth to those who are in particular need. Members of the local church I attend have for many years contributed to a Lifeboat Fund to help members and others who are in acute financial need. To this has recently been added a Covid-19 Fund to enable local organisations to respond to increased needs in our community arising from the COVID-19 restrictions and in some cases, ensure they are able to continue when normal fund raising activities are curtailed. The church’s World Partners are also using the fund in their work with marginalised communities who are at increased risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. And this week the church has launched a Self Employed Fund to loan small amounts of money to those whose income from self employment is not sufficient to support them.
4) Beyond the UK it is good to support local businesses in the third world. One of the most crucial factors of the developed world in which we live is that the profits from industry and commerce are ploughed back into the companies and peoples that produce them. In the developing world, however, most of the finance and investment comes from the developed world and the profits are returned to these countries instead of being ploughed back where they are made. Such countries will continue to struggle to have real growth for their own people.

So as you travel on your own journey towards prosperity I hope that you will deal with your money in creative ways.  To finish with a quote from William Bloom ‘Money allows total strangers, instead of being alienated to come into relationship.’

Arthur Childs

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