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The “Tyranny of Money”

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.