The Root of Many Evils

Dove-tailing with the last entry, at one point during the documentary Collapse, the unseen interviewer asks Michael C. Ruppert about his own religious beliefs after Ruppert comments that the major world religions will be judged on their merits should we start making the decline from peak oil production to industrial collapse. Ruppert responds somewhat enigmatically, simply quoting the first sentence of 1 Timothy 6:10:

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. “

Now, it’s very obvious from the context that Ruppert is talking specifically about those people who have valued economic and material wealth above all other things, to the detriment of their fellow human beings and the planet in general. But, as that comment has circled around in my brain over the past few weeks, and as I’ve reflected on some of the current world events, I’ve realized something. Of course, this realization is likely nothing overly epiphanous and no doubt most other people have had it, as well.

The realization was that it’s not the love of money specifically that is the root of so many different evils, but the infatuation with and all-consuming desire for acquisition. Granted, they’re probably two different ways of communicating the same concept, but I think the distinction is an important one. Growing up, I would hear that quote about “money being the root of all evil” and assumed (as I’m sure others did) that it was a comment on chasing after physical wealth instead of focusing on devotional contemplation. Obviously, having grown up in a Catholic household, my formative associations were with monastics and Jesus’ exhortation to be as care-free (in regards to matters of economics) as the birds of the field. But, really, the line from Timothy is saying more than that.

Sure, the love of money (in the sense of currency and easily moveable wealth) is the cause of many evils – just look at what the lust for a quick buck among Wall Street traders, hedge-fund managers, and bankers here in the United States has done to the global economy in the last few years. But the love of power does just as much damage – look at the situation in Libya: Qaddafi is no doubt fighting so hard against rebellion because, at least in part, he loves his position of authority and the immense power that it brings. The love of consumption is just as bad: consumption as gluttony (e.g. – America’s problem with fast-food and obesity), consumption as greed (e.g. – “keeping up with the Joneses” and parents trampling each other for the “hot new Christmas gift”), consumption as lust (e.g. – using others for sexual gratification, etc.) – consumption is acquisition in its broadest and basest form. And the rules of current Western society reinforce this addictive consumption and acquisition. In fact, we’re told, our economy wouldn’t work without it.

It is an inherently selfish egocentricity and an overweening avarice that lies at the dark core of this form of “acquisition as addiction”. The feeling that one has the right to something, simply because they want it.

“I worked hard for all of this, why should I share it with anyone?!”

“I don’t care if he/she is married, I want them, so I’m going to take them!”

“So what if your people have lived on this land since time immemorial, it has valuable materials that I want!”

“Why should I pay you a living wage? That will bite into my profits!”

We teach our children at the youngest age to share what they have, because sharing is a good thing. Sharing builds community, it builds the bonds of relationship, it builds trust and good faith. But, at some point we forget that, and we’re told that the true sign of wealth is the hoarding of our possessions. That the love of money is what makes the world go ’round.

Now, I’m not saying that the mere acquisition of wealth is necessarily a bad thing. Even the Roman statesman and Stoic Seneca noted that there was nothing wrong with being wealthy, in and of itself, that even the poor could become wealthy (search the page for “wealthy”) through thriftiness and shrewd money-management. Instead, it’s this idolatry of acquisition which is inherently bad; this idea that because you’ve collected more stuff (whether it’s money, cars, houses, sexual conquests, etc.) than someone else, obviously you’re better off than they are. I can’t help, though, but think of two things from Norse and Germanic folk-belief:

1) That the best, most beloved chieftains and kings among the Germanic peoples were often called “haters of gold”, due to their habit of distributing their wealth among their warriors and other tribesmen.

2) That the archetypal European dragon was originally the spirit of a miserly man who would not part with his vast hoard of gold, jewels, and trinkets – even in death, growing more and more inhuman until his ghost no longer resembled a man, but instead that of some vast monster.

And, sadly, I look out at the world right now and see too few “haters of gold”, but instead so many, many dragons in the making.


~ by crow365 on March 23, 2011.

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