The "Tyranny of Money"

4 Comment(s) | Posted | by Shaji George Kochuthara |

By: Shaji George Kochuthara

Pope Francis has urged the global leaders to end the "tyranny" of money. He said that money should be made to "serve" people, and not to "rule" them. The Pope was unambiguous in his strongly-worded criticism: "The worship of the golden calf of the old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly human goal." (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/10061700/Pope-Francis-urges-global-leaders-to-end-tyranny-of-money.html)

The Pope was referring to the predominant economic systems in the world, in particular to the capitalist, neo-liberal system and was calling for a more ethical system. This "tyranny" of money is deeply felt not only in the economic system, but in every sphere of life; rather, this tyranny of money in the economic system influences every sphere of life. Everything is evaluated in terms of money and monetary benefits; money becomes the only criterion in life. Not only in business, but also in education, sports, healthcare, money becomes the only norm. Or, everything has become a business to make profit at any cost; anything has become ethical if it helps gain more money. People and institutions voluntarily and happily surrender themselves to this "tyranny" of money. Even religious institutions are often not an exception to this.

Indian sports has been disturbed in the last few days by controversies over illegal betting/spot-fixing in cricket, the most popular sports in India. (Betting is still illegal in India). Such cases were there also in the past, but this time, even important players were arrested. The owner of a team also is arrested on allegations of spot-fixing, and he is the son-in-law of the president of the Board of Cricket Control for India (BCCI). Though they gain millions legally, that is not enough to satisfy them. Betraying the ideals of sports and betraying the trust of their fans, they are ready to take resort to any means to make more money. Not only in India, almost everywhere sports has become a business, controlled by business men, to gain money, legally and illegally; buying and selling of sports stars is a business involving millions.

In India, May-July is the period of the beginning of the academic year, and hence of new admissions. Education had been considered a sacred profession/mission in the Indian tradition. This was true with regard to private institutions as well; running an educational institution for economic profit was something unthinkable. But in the recent decades, this has changed a lot. A number of private agencies and business firms have entered the field of education with the motive of making money. I do not know whether Christian educational institutions can claim complete freedom from this "tyranny" of money. The yearly balance of many Christian educational institutions amount to millions/tens of millions or rupees. Evidently, it is a very competitive field and for developmental works Christian institutions also need money. But, the profit that many institutions make seems much beyond their actual needs. The net result is that the poor are practically kept away from these institutions. For many religious congregations and dioceses, the only criterion to discern whether to begin a new institution, seems to be the prospective financial gain. Often, the success of an institution is evaluated in terms of its account balance.

Reports on the business motives in the field of healthcare appear frequently. Reports on the fraudulent practices of Ranbaxy is only a latest addition to this (http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/a-deception-most-foul/article4753453.ece).

This "tyranny" of money in every sphere of human activity and makes the life of the poor unbearable and distressed. Even for the rich life loses its meaning and joy since the amassing of money becomes the only value. To rediscover the meaning and joy of life, the ethics of life based only on money is to be challenged. This is especially the duty of an ethics that believes in the preferential option for the poor.

 

Comments

  1. Manoj Sunny's avatar
    Manoj Sunny
    | Permalink
    A relevant, thought provoking article. I am glad to see it from a CMI priest!
  2. Ralph Coelho's avatar
    Ralph Coelho
    | Permalink
    We need to find ways to propose specific action as against changing a mind set. No rich man will agree that he submits to the tyranny of money and a poor man will say he would welcome some tyranny. I remember my mother telling me, as a ten year old, “a gentleman is never rude to any lady; whether his sister or the woman who sweeps the road”. I have never forgotten this. Was it the specific challenge to be a gentleman?
    What can I challenge a rich philanthropist to do? Pay back the world? He knows that what he can ever pay back will never be remotely near the value of what he received, what he acquired at the cost of long dead people because wealth is more often redistributed than it is created.
  3. elisa freschi's avatar
    elisa freschi
    | Permalink
    Thank you for the inspiring article.
    Lately, I have been discussing with a colleague about what happens when money becomes the main aim of Universities and educational Institutes in general (http://loveofallwisdom.com/blog/2013/06/how-money-corrupts-the-universitys-values/). The point is that, unless you have a different focus (e.g.: convincig every one of the validity of your Marxist truth) money is an indispensable tool in order to run the institute AND it is the only aim which can be easily shared by many people. Thus, unless one lives in a totalitarian state (see the Marxist example above) it is very difficult to shape universities in a different way. The fact that they are still not completely driven by money (at least in Europe) is only because of the past inheritance of centuries of educational institutions for which money was not the main point (I am not saying that they were ideal ---in fact, people of low origin were by definition excluded).
    Now, Christian educational systems are, in this sense, in the position to strive for real education without needing to focus only on money, since they have already a focus. However, in order to achieve this, they probably need to be able to distinguish themselves from the Marxist institutions mentioned above. I.e., they need to focus on real education instead of on indoctrination. Perhaps the confidence in the fact that truth will spontaneously be found if one is left free to look for it might help in this sense?
  4. Shaji George Kochuthara's avatar
    Shaji George Kochuthara
    | Permalink
    The real question is not whether we need money to run the institutions, but whether money can be the only or the most important purpose of running the institutions. For infrastructure, to offer modern facilities, to pay qualified staff members, Christian educational institutions also need money. In the past, perhaps many educational institutions could depend on the contributions from the community, or from charitable organisations abroad. But, today in most cases this does not work. So, what is the solution? However, the other extreme is also to be avoided, that is financial gain is the only criterion. For example, if educational institutions are started mainly with the purpose of amassing wealth; if a poor student is denied admission because he/she cannot pay the fee,though the institution has the financial sources for supporting such a student; appointments are made based on the money/bribe offered by the employee instead of the quality; preferential option for the poor is forgotten for the sake of success and fame; etc. Christian institutions are invited to make a self-evaluation...

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