So I’m back in my hotel room
With John Coltrane and A Love Supreme
In the next room I hear some woman scream out
That her lover’s turning off, turning on the television
And I can’t tell the difference between ABC News, Hill Street Blues
And a preacher on the old time gospel hour
Stealing money from the sick and the old
Well the God I believe in isn’t short of cash, mister!
– U2 ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’
So, this is something I have been known to bring up from time to time. On the one hand, money is a tool which allows us to exchange our time and effort for goods and services of others easily. Accumulated money is also power. At some point too much power tends to corrupt an individual. At what point this happens I suppose varies from person to person and whether anyone is immune to it can certainly be a point of debate. But most of us are fairly aware of these universal wisdoms.
How universal are they? Well, that depends, really, on the individual. Some people acquire massive amounts of wealth and become philanthropists, doing great deeds for the betterment of society and their fellow human beings. Others use their money to do other things like buy off politicians, judges and whatnot to tilt things in their own favor. Sometimes going so far as to get laws passed which make things better for them and not so good for everyone else. It all really depends on the person and their character, ethics, morals and virtues. But it’s difficult to deny that when one holds great power it is sometimes a huge challenge to not want to use that power to do things for yourself and sometimes those things can be to the detriment of others.
How does this tie to religion? Well, I’m working my way there. Stick with me. Money is just one form of power but a very influential one. Religion is another. I support the concept of separating the powers of religion and the powers of state. Combined, these two have given rise to some of the most horrendous tragedies in our world’s history. The founders of the United States knew this well having been not too far removed from the times in which people were being burned at the stake, tortured, hanged and a host of other things simply for having a difference of opinion on religion. Money in politics and money in religion can also have a very corrosive effect if not held in check. I don’t think we have to look too far to see examples of it.
So, I guess what I am saying is that we should all be conscious of our own motivations as well as the motivations of others in situations where these powers are combined in large quantities. Are we doing things for us alone? If so, there is nothing inherently wrong with that BUT will it harm others? Will it deny them the same rights and freedoms we claim for ourselves? Does it go against the spirit of a democracy and convert it into a theocracy? Does it institute a class society in which one is relegated to remain in whatever class they were born into with little hope or real avenues to better themselves? Is it right?
Just a few thoughts for this Sunday morning. Be good to one another and Blessed Be!