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The god of money and a failed religion


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Illustration: Andy Morgan

Over the past few decades we have come to form a new religion by worshipping the god of money. Daily services and rituals of this "religion" are held throughout the world on the stock exchange floors and online through day-trading speculation frenzies. Its priests include elite bankers, lobbyists, hedge fund managers, and those financial analysts on TV shows.

Instead of a selfless motive, this religion is based on the opposite of anything spiritual. Its doctrine involves a market forces mentality, where everything is decided solely by how much profit it brings to corporations. This, unfortunately, has led to our demise as a modern civilization.

We are morally, spiritually, bankrupt. This system of profits over people has utterly failed.

There is nothing inherently wrong with money, of course. It is simply a form of energy, and energy is neutral in and of itself. It can be used for selfish purposes just as easily as it can be used to save people who are in need. The problem is in the gambling addiction. We have been taught to chase after money at all costs, and so we have developed a disease of speculation and greed.

A recent global poll by the BBC News reveals a widespread dissatisfaction with so-called "free-market" capitalism. A large proportion of the public in many countries appear to support a more regulated economic system, where wealth is not concentrated so much in the hands of the elite few.

Some people advocate a total "hands off" approach, where so-called market forces determine everything for a nation. Yet this type of path has taken us exactly to where we are today -- near the edge of a precipice.  We are trying to save a dilapidated economy that is built on unjust and inhumane principles. Somehow we have allowed commercialization to invade and control every aspect of our lives. Healthcare, education, and even natural resources which are essential to life, such as water, are being privatized and commoditized. Corporations are claiming ownership of resources which have been provided for all inhabitants on this planet.

Nowhere, in all the great religions and spiritual traditions, do we see anyone preaching:  "greed is fine, just worry about yourself and maximize your quantity of material possessions." 

Market forces have proven they do not solve everything and lead to universal happiness and equality. Our system is so unjust that poorer nations actually give more money to the wealthiest nations than they receive in development aid from them. Nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest parts of the world, are sending about $25,000 every minute to Northern creditors (the wealthiest nations) in the form of debt repayment! Americans have this illusion that we have done all we can in giving huge amounts of loans to help those abroad, but in reality the West is profiting off the backs of the poor who are in desperate need. 

Humanity cannot find peace and happiness while hundreds of millions of people continue to suffer in extreme poverty.  The evil forces of greed and division have played out in the economic arena, but there seems to be a growing counterforce now emerging. More and more, we see a people's movement calling for economic and social justice, sharing, and universal human rights. The inter-connectedness among peoples and nations is what must take precedence in our minds and hearts, if we wish to avert total disaster. Either we change course, or we continue on blindly and face the serious threat of increasing tension, terror and war. 

Isn't it time for a new way forward, where the basic needs of all and the health of our planet take priority over lucrative profits and over-consumption?

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