With corruption becoming an everyday occurrence, ethics that were previously taken for granted in leaders have long ago been replaced by a “win at all costs/all’s fair in love and war (and business and politics)” mentality. Yes, that’s what money does to people. But, if you’re a leader who would like to be a role model, it would be a good exercise to ask yourself what money has done to you.
There are many sayings that reflect the effect that money has on people. It’s said that, “Money makes the world go round,” and that, “Money is the root of all evil.” Money is, however NOT the root of all evil. While that saying may sound impressive, it’s in fact a misquote of the saying, “The love of money is the root of all evil,” which is very different. This misquote has however given rise to a view that money is evil and that people who have lots of it are therefore evil. Again, that is an incorrect perception. There are good people who are wealthy and there are evil people who are wealthy. And the same applies to those who don’t have any money. So what would a correct perception of money be?
The truth of the matter, you may be surprised to know, is that money is actually completely amoral. That means it is neither moral (good) not immoral (evil). Being amoral – or neutral – money simply takes on the morality of the person in whose hands it rests. That means that , in the hands of good people, money will be used to do good – it can fund health programmes for the underprivileged, build hospitals to help heal the sick, feed the poor, fund employment opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, and so forth.
On the other hand, in the hands of evil people, money can be used to fund terrorist organisations, to fund crime, get young people enslaved by drugs and pay gangsters to intimidate law abiding citizens to do their bidding, among other things.
In addition, good people will try to acquire money in good ways and evil people will try to acquire it in evil ways.
And that is what has given rise to the mistaken belief that money corrupts people. Money doesn’t corrupt anyone. What money DOES do is reveal a person’s character.
That means that the influence that money has on each one of us reveals the values by which we live our lives. If an honest person is presented with an opportunity to acquire large sums of money in a dishonest manner, they will not be tempted in the least. So, should they be offered money to make an unethical decision or do something unethical that unfairly or dishonestly favours themselves and/or someone else, they will stand firm, according to their ethics.
Now, this sounds quite naïve in a world where big money and corruption are comfortable bedfellows, where unethical politicians and executives gladly, willingly and happily sell their souls for a few – or a lot of – shekels, winking and thinking to themselves that they’re so smart.
So let’s get personal …
What does money reveal about your character?
To help you answer that, here are a few questions to answer quietly to yourself:
- How promptly do you pay contractors and service providers who have done work for you?
- Would you inflate your prices to make some extra profit should there be an unusual demand for your service or product?
- If a client over pays, would you say nothing and hope they don’t realise it or would you promptly organise a refund?
- If an employee of a client company offers to give you a job on the understanding that you will give them a kickback, would you agree to that?
- Have you ever offered a law enforcement officer money to overlook a transgression of yours or a family member?
Some of these might be easy to answer and some not so easy, but they will prompt you to start reflecting on the ethics you think you have. You see, when we start engaging in unethical or deceptive activities, the first person we deceive is ourselves. And once we’ve done that, we lose all connection with truth and reality. That’s when others start to see things in us that we can’t see in ourselves.
While money may however be amoral, the Universe isn’t. It’s a very moral entity – it operates according to certain immutable laws. Try breaking the law of gravity and see what happens …
Another saying about money is that, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Well, many unethical people have gathered much money in unethical ways during the course of their lives, but they’re fools if they believe that they can defy the immutable laws of the Universe.