What should be the value of money in life? Should it be like Midas or Marx? Does money make the mare go? Is it an essential condition of living? Is it a personal possession or trusteeship? Is it for living or charity or philanthropy? Should it be encouraged as a virtue or discouraged as a vice? Should it be earned or simply robbed from others? Is the world happy without money or unhappy? What provokes wars among nations-money or something else? Should money be made lawfully within the knowledge of society generally or in the darkness of public knowledge called corruption? There are many more such questions that determine, motivate, induce or train us on the subject of money.
The most astounding fact of life is that money is an essential requirement for a reasonably good living. Growing up with contempt for money or the rich is nothing new- it is okay so long as one remains financially dependent on others, like parents or acquaintances or friends or charities without experiencing hunger for two or three days at a go.For a normal living with one’s own family, money is an essential requirement to serve the daily needs of food, shelter or clothing. There can be no logical reason to live under the illusion of money being of no consequence or simply another shade of capitalism or capitalist mentality. It is indeed one of the four major prowess of a person. It comes next only to education. Education in the widest sense, including learning, skill development and gainful employment. One is supposed to acquire adequate skills to be able to earn for himself and also provide for his family. Those living on others kindness or charity waste their life. They hardly ever get to be respected. Every member of the family is expected to contribute to the family and the society ultimately. We take more from society than return to it! Money in the possession of an uneducated or ill-educated is a sure recipe of disaster and is bound to be spent thoughtlessly in no time. Education is necessary not only to be able to earn money but also manage it ethically.
It is ethical not to consume all that one earns but share it with family, friends, the needy and society largely. Society is inclusive of the humanity; in other words the great “Earth family” or vasudhev kutumbakam. Our Earth family includes all living and non living things, since we are just a part of the entire life form on planet Earth. We are no more than a part of a big chain of the visual phenomenon we call the universe. It means we are inter-dependent, supplementary and complimentary to each other. The resources of the universe are not for our exclusive consumption. The wealth of the world is not for our exclusive possession. We have no ownership rights on anything on this earth. Though we are all greedy like Midas, we get equally disenchanted with possessing wealth. As greed is natural in early years of life so is charity in the later years of life. Later part of life is a new phase of awareness of the hollowness of possessions, brought about by disillusionments in life.
The world has been experiencing games of growing rich for millennia. Wars are testimony to it. Colonisation was an instrument of acquiring the wealth of others illegally. The vast devastation caused by the two world Wars of the 20th Century prompted the world to think of development. Development needed capital for investment. Capital started moving from one country to another. In the first decade of the 21st Century, there has been a clamour for inviting foreign direct investment (FDI). In essence, it only emphasizes the significance of money in life of the individuals and nations. If that be so, why not highlight this uncontestable fact of life?
In India, there has been an ugly propaganda against money for centuries in the name of religion. It is contemptuously called Maya or illusion. Those preaching hatred against money and the moneyed or the rich are happily enriching themselves by collecting million in offerings! While it might be simply illusion in religious or philosophical terms, it is needed to learn even this much to realize that it is nothing more than maya. And it is here that huge investments are needed. Without love or hate for money, the objective lesson is that life moves on the wheels of money. That signifies the value of two powerful symbols from India.
One of these symbols is Lord Ganesh. He represents pursuit of knowledge by holding a pen and a writing pad in his hands. Another symbol is his elephant head. Elephants are supposed to possess great memory. Knowledge acquired needs to be stored in one’s “active memory”. There is simply so much of knowledge that it gets lost unless remembered. Pursuing knowledge and not being able to use it is like having money and dying of hunger! He is depicted as a God with a large belly, which symbolizes the responsibility of the bread earner of the family to provide for his wife and children and parents and other elderly members. That kind of a family constitutes a miniature society, sharing pains and pleasures, happiness and unhappiness and acting mutual support systems. He is the Lord of prosperity. Now, who says that education doesn’t bring prosperity? He is called vighnaharta or the Lord who removes all obstacles that come one’s way in life. Who said it is not possible to get over all obstacles in life for a knowledgeable person? Can someone claim that no obstacles come in life? All of us face obstacles blocking our progress in life, and we even don’t know their source!
There should be no guilt feeling about money, irrespective of misleading sermons of religious preachers. The hard fact of life is that there isn’t enough work for each hand to earn a living. Creating wealth is a prowess in such circumstances. There should be no justification for ridiculing or hate mongering against wealth or the wealth creators. Only those knowledgeable people who successfully employ their talents can create wealth. Wealth is not earned easily in the normal course of life. It is an open secret. People know what is the source of one’s income or how does he create wealth. There lies the virtue of creating wealth. There is such an uneven distribution of prowess in the gene pool of the homo sapiens that some possess virility unlimited whereas other possess the talent to create untold wealth and yet others are masters of knowledge! However, everyone has a reason to celebrate; celebrate youth even when not so beautiful as the most beautiful. The cup of every life is filled with happiness. Money spreads happiness all around equally: for the creator and the worker and the consumer.
The all encompassing value of money is put to public display on the Money Day in India- it is known as the festival of Diwali (also Deepawali). It falls on the darkest night of the month of Kartik (last week of October or early November).This year it will be celebrated on October 26. Goddess of wealth Lakshmi is worshipped on the day. It is a symbol of the value of wealth in life. Millions of earthen lamps light up the dark night creating a celestial aura and ambience! It is a great money spinning occasion for a variety of producers like the earthen lamp makers, clothiers, sweets manufacturers, civil and electrical maintenance service providers, industrial goods manufacturers, gifts makers etc. Millions of work hours are generated by the festival of Diwali. It provides employment for the whole family. It is a great marketing occasion. You spend and they earn and they are able to spend and you earn and a whole chain of economic activity is put into motion. The festival brings smiles on everyone’s lip. The darkness of the night represents gloom in life and the brightness of the light of the lamps the happiness. Inspiring everyone to get out of the gloom of life, make efforts to earn money and live some happy moments. While greed may not be good, earning one’s livelihood is no greed. When practiced within the knowledge of everyone, it becomes prowess or purushartha. One fulfils an important duty to oneself, called “artha” or earning wealth. It is a necessary stage in life before one enters the domain of enjoying life’s pleasures. Without earning money, one can’t even think of doing charity. Without wealth, philanthropy becomes somebody else’s cup of tea.
The world is currently undergoing economic upheavals. The rich countries are in terrible debt and money has suddenly become scarce. The ordinary among us are paying the price of the wars fought between the capitalists and the communists. The two seem to have reversed their roles in less than 75 years. All due to money, as the quarrel is all about money. Whether money should be privately owned or collectively owned? Whether it should be only for the consumption of the earner or others. The quarrel is not yet settled finally. It shall never be settled finally. There can be no finality about the dynamics of Life. Without waiting for any finality of the ownership or love of money, let us put it on the table that money is important to run the affairs in life. While Indians have their Diwali to make such a declaration, let the world also celebrate it as the World Money Day. The UNO celebrates hundreds of Days for one or the other cause.It will bring about some discipline in the world money markets, which are infected by unethical methods of making and consuming money. Illegal incomes are a bane of modern societies, as forcible dispossession of others of their wealth was that of the medieval societies. The world can be run ethically, if equitable opportunities for making good money are available to all. While it is perfectly moral for the earner to consume it, he is equally bound morally to share it with others. Truly speaking, the most satisfying would be to hold it in trust.