For the love of money is the root of all evil
1 Timothy 6:1
Evil is, for me, that which is destructive of life—not necessarily an individual life, but rather the system of life. Evil can also be systemic, as our money driven economic system demonstrates.
Pope Francis reminds us that money itself is not evil. The love of money, however, is evil and our love us money has led us to create an economic system that exemplifies systemic evil in its drive to destroy life to grow the financial assets of those who are least in need. Our worshipful servitude to a system that measures the value of life by the metric of money brings our species sanity and intelligence into question.
Contrasting Moral Codes for the Old and New Economies
Seven Deadly Sins Embraced
Seven Life-Serving Virtues
|Pride: Uncommon individual wealth is a mark of superior intelligence, contribution, and merit. Those who have it deserve it.||Humility: Every person has a gift. The joy of meaningful service that comes from sharing our personal gift is its own reward.|
|Greed: If any legal activity makes a profit, you have a moral duty to society to engage in it. In a winner-take-all world, if you don’t get the prize first, someone else will.||Sharing: Earth’s wealth is our common heritage. Preserving and sharing it is our moral duty, a source of true joy, and the foundation of a secure and healthy world.|
|Envy: It is right and proper to want more than your neighbor has to prove his inferiority and your superior worth.||Love: Those who recognize that all beings are connected know that what we do to and for others we do to and for ourselves.|
|Anger: Attack and destroy those who might become your competitor before they attack and destroy you.||Compassion: Life is better for everyone when we treat one another with understanding, respect, and caring.|
|Lust: Self-indulgence is our nature and the path to fulfillment. Do not hesitate to cultivate and fulfill your natural desires for sexual and material gratification.||Self-control: Obsessive behavior limits the development of our capacity for the responsible self-mastery of a fully developed human consciousness.|
|Gluttony: If a little is good, then more is better.||Moderation: Keep your needs modest and take only what you need.|
|Sloth: If you can afford a life of idle luxury, it is your due, the ultimate personal achievement, and a sign of superior worth and status. Let others earn their keep by serving you.||Passion: Engage in life with joyful exuberance. Living fully and passionately in service to others is our greatest source of joy and fulfillment.|
Source:This table is adapted from David Korten, Agenda for a New Economy. The original was inspired by “The Seven Deadly Sins,” White Stone Journal, http://whitestonejournal.com/index.php/seven-deadly-sins (accessed March 2, 2010).
Most of the dysfunction of modern human society can be traced to the structure of the institutional system by which money is created and allocated. It is, however, difficult to engage a public discussion of the issues and implications, because the money system is built on illusion, its inner workings are largely invisible, and most people, including most economists, haven’t a clue how it works.
Other issues like war, crime, climate change, and job loss seem so much more real and urgent. The fact that the money system drives them all—and much more—is difficult to grasp. How can something as abstract and meaningless as an accounting entry determine the conduct of real world human affairs?
The September 2008 Wall Street crash pulled back to curtain to expose the system’s corruption and its very real impact on every aspect of our lives. In so doing, the crash opened a window of opportunity for a much needed and long overdue national and global conversation.
The call is simple. The Wall Street economy is corrupt beyond repair. It must be replaced by a new system based on principles of real democracy and real markets. We can create a New Economy that mimics the structure and dynamics of Earth’s biosphere and serves life. We can rid the world of a true evil, not with the use of guns, but by creating a New Economy for which life, not money, is the defining value.