The Root of All Evil

I’m a little disturbed with much of the social commentary around money of late. Europe, Jeb Bush and Michael Moore are all attacking capitalism, CNBC’s American Greed is in its fourth season and the infamous movie Wall Street has its sequel debut next month. The subtext in all this is money is bad… even evil.

Let’s remember the full text: For the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10)—not money itself.

People (certain few) are the evil ones. Remember, money is nothing but dirty pieces of paper with dead presidents (and Franklin) on them. People are the ones who attach emotions, feelings and perplexing behaviors to it.

I have found that money only makes us more of whom we already were, but couldn’t afford to exercise. If you are caring, generous and compassionate, with money now you can do great works. If you are jerk, more money will only make you a more obnoxious, loud and glitzy jerk. Yet, people will point to the money as his source of evil. Not so. Money only funded a spotlight and megaphone for his true nature to shine.

Let’s put accountability back where it belongs—not the system of capitalism, the pursuit of the “American Dream” or with money itself, but with the people who abuse the system and the illicit and criminal pursuit and use of money.

Instead, I’m more inclined to believe: the root of all evil is… the lack of money.

If you question that let me share the stats…
•    Money is the #1 cause of divorce.
•    89% of the population is less than four paychecks away from disaster.
•    1 out of 3 have bad credit.
•    According to Merrill Lynch, the average 50-year-old has an average net worth of only $23,000 and without an adequate source of income to live out their retirement.
•    1 out of 3 will retire on less than $900 per month.
•    Lack of money is causing more than 2 million foreclosures and 2 million bankruptcies a year.

Oh, and yet the average person spends 23 hours a WEEK watching TV…
Call me crazy, but I think the love of TV is the root of all evil!

One of the best explanations and philosophies on money I have ever read comes out of Ayn Rand’s towering novel (one of my all time favorite books) Atlas Shrugged. Here is a passage spoken by one of the leading characters of the book Francisco d’Anconia…

“So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Anconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. … Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

“But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.

“But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires.

“Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another—their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

“To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money—and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man’s mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being – the self-made man – the American industrialist.”

My articulation about money is this, “Money is an instrument for life, not the meaning of life.”

Don’t buy into the current fad against ambition, wealth and success. Abundance, prosperity, aspiration, financial freedom and… success are all (still) noble causes (maybe the most noble) as the world benefits when one creates, builds and contributes in order to reach their personal achievements.

It takes money to build schools, churches, feed and clothe people, fund science to prevent diseases, etc. We are meant to be creative beings. The more we create (contribute), the more money is exchanged for our creation. In actuality, I think money is the root of all good. It stimulates and measures our creativity and creative output.

What are your thoughts? Is money good or evil… or benign? Is it people who are good or evil? Share your comments in the section below.


Darren Hardy is the former publisher of SUCCESS magazine, an entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author of The Compound Effect and Living Your Best Year Ever: A Proven Formula for Achieving Big Goals.

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