A God Called Money

In 1994, Mother Teresa commented that it is “the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” [1] Those words were meant for a specific audience, but they echo into a larger ideology. Throwing light onto how the powerful play while the powerless suffer.

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

Pope Francis recently channeled Mother Teresa’s sentiments in an impromptu speech given in Sardinia, where the unemployment rate has hit catastrophic heights. He talked about the globalized economy that put the “god called money” ahead of human beings and sacrificed the young and the old for the sake of profit.

In Pope Francis’ words: “To defend this economic culture, a throwaway culture has been installed. We throw away grandparents, and we throw away young people. We have to say no to this throwaway culture. We want a just system that helps everyone.”

Reportedly, the crowd responded with applause and tears. It’s a powerful message that people are longing to hear. A message that the global economic system does not have to crush them… crush us. That we can band together and put human values above fiscal ones. And that a humane approach is what God calls us to.

But how?

Charity: Charitable donations are just one avenue. But charity has its limits. Some even question its overall efficacy, noting that charity is merely a bandaid on a larger systemic wound, a wound that perpetuates a world where the underclass is exploited while the overclass pays guilt money. Peter Buffet (son of Warren) made headlines when he expressed this idea, which he calls the “charitable industrial complex.

Revolution: Peter Buffet, unfortunately hasn’t offered a specific plan to counter this complex. He mentions the need for capitalism to transform into humanism. He discusses the idea of funding ways to deconstruct globalisation. Something really powerful happening on a large scale. A revolution. It would appear Pope Francis also favors a version of this approach.

time-of-request-employeeRest: Rest? Yes, rest. God tells us to take a day of rest each week. But, even among those who heed that command, how often do we undo the sabbath by working twice as hard the other 6 days?

People are too productive. We don’t need each individual person to work as much as we did in the past. But many (most?) of us still operate under the assumption that we cannot make enough money. We need to work as much as possible: heavy hours, putting off retirement. But there is another way. A number of companies and government agencies have started this practice, as an alternative to layoffs. They call it workshare.

Pro-Bono: But if we’re all resting so much, won’t that make us really lazy and unproductive? Matthew Manos of verynice has an answer: give away half of all you do! His belief is that making your volunteer hours a significant part of your regular workweek will produce greater social change as well as increased innovation. This is a powerful and potentially revolutionary idea. It changes our perception of work, from a service to “the god called money” to a service to the good of our fellow human beings. veryniceStudio

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[1] She was specifically talking about the perceived western practice of convenience abortions. I wrestled with whether or not to include this quote. It it potentially distracting in that it leads the reader into an emotional and contentious issue. But though I am personally pro-choice, I do understand that our commitment to personal freedom comes at a cost. That cost is often terrible, and deserves proper reflection.

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