I often hear the sad conclusion, “Money is the root of all evil.” Normally, it’s said with an air of resignation, after heaving a great sigh. Over the years, I have wondered about the statement. After all, money is a very neutral entity. It’s an object. It consists of coins and printed paper. It appears innocuous enough. It has no will nor power of its own.
And then, I think of how the presence or even the mere mention of money changes people’s attitudes. It transforms usual inattentiveness to heightened alertness. It colors conversations between parties and even encourages more intense emotions. The latter can be accompanied by raised voices and hasty declarations.
I know of a family that has struggled with so much hostile conflict, made public by their legal skirmishes. A daughter, once trusted with the family’s investments, has chosen to systematically unload some family assets without any prior authorization from the rest of the family. She claims she was doing this all for her family’s own good. That her siblings can’t manage their money. That her father will only share the proceeds with his other family, a prospect she looks upon with disdain. But she siphons all the proceeds for her own purposes, not sharing even a penny with anyone else. Now they have to battle this all in a public court.
I know of another family, having reached their rock bottom hardship, called for help from reliable relations across the globe. The conscientious bunch came to the rescue and through hard work, long hours of dedication, many miles of sacrifice forsaking even their own brood at times, succeeded in elevating this family’s misery to not just a comfortable existence but quite a prestigious and opulent lifestyle. When it came time to pay off debts, when it came time to comply with requirements, the family members began to show their true colors. They wanted to be left alone. They insisted on their egregious claims. They proclaimed sole responsibility for their success. They wanted to bask in the grandeur of their social standing. Injurious words were flung across the table, on the telephone, through chosen emissaries. Pronouncements to inflict pain and suffering were issued. The conscientious bunch was too bewildered to make sense of the outbursts or even the promised legal filings.
When I was a young girl, my mother told me that I should always be careful about burning bridges:
“You don’t know where life may take you. Who knows, you might have to cross that bridge again one day.”
I have always valued that advise. What happens, though, when the bridges you are burning are your own kin’s? Your own blood?
There is an old adage in Filipino:
“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa kanilang pinanggalingan, hindi makakarating sa kanilang paroroonan.”
Translation: If you do not know how to appreciate where you came from, you will likely not reach your destination. Something like that.
Money is not the root of all evil. It’s the worship of money that is evil. It’s the people who hold money above all else who are evil. Money is just their vehicle.