The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 4

Money. The money god. Poverty. Reversals. The born thief. There is no accident of wealth or inheritance.

The subject of money and what has monetary value deserves special attention. The possession and the lack of money create today the thousand and one conditions through which the ways of destiny lead. Independence, servitude, fatigue, checks on development, choice of associates, power, opportunity, duty, most of the innumerable predetermined aspects of life in the world, are related to money.

Everybody needs money. It is proper that everybody should have some. Indeed one of the tests of a good government is that all people under it should have the opportunity to earn enough for food, clothes and shelter. Beyond these needs some wants are justifiable according to the position a man holds in the world. If one has no wife or children, less is needed. But the thoughts of man go beyond and demand not only what would be sufficient for their needs and reasonable wants. They want money for luxury and display, for power over others, and some want money for money’s sake. However much they may have, they still want more. Often money, after it has been acquired, has little value. It will not buy health, honor, self-respect; it cannot buy love nor life; nor independence, ease or knowledge.

True independence is what money should help to bring, and little money is enough for that. Though independence varies with one’s position and work in the world, little money is needed to establish it. Cares, troubles and intrigues surround those who desire more than enough. Money does not enlarge the range of independence. Happiness within and assurance without is what all men want, but life never gives them. The nearest approach is independence, however modest it be. Money is one of the smallest requirements. The less one needs and the less he wants from the money god, the more independent that one is.

The money god is a powerful earth spirit, created, kept alive and given his power, like other gods, by the worship of doer portions in human bodies. Under this great earth god are little money gods, special deities for each of the worshippers. Each little money god, in the heart and on the hearth, is nourished by the worshipper, and stands for the great god. The individual gods pass the worship on to the composite great god. This one, in turn, through the hierarchy, aids his worshippers in obtaining money and avoiding losses, in helping them into successful enterprises and lucrative positions, or in keeping them out of financial disasters. But this god cannot give health, comfort or esteem; nor love, cheer or hope; nor can it give protection in the end, when destiny cannot be held back. Often a worshipper having obtained the money worships other gods and uses the money to gratify other desires which his wealth permits. The money god is tolerant while he holds the first place in the heart, but if the new worship, such as that of voluptuousness, drunkenness, ambition interferes, he is a jealous god and revenges himself not only by the loss of money, but by the loss of the things that the money had bought.

He who is born in poverty, who feels at home in poverty and makes no effort to overcome his poverty, is a feeble, indolent and ignorant person, who has done little in the past and so has little in the present. He will be driven by hunger and want or be brought by love of those dependent upon him to work, as the only escape from the dull treadmill of poverty. He who is born in poverty with ideals, talents or high ambitions, may be one who has ignored physical conditions and spent his energies in dreaming and in castle building.

He who suddenly suffers reversals of fortune may be one who in the past has deprived others of their property, or who has neglected to protect his own. The present experience is a lesson necessary to make him feel the physical want and suffering which loss of prosperity brings, and to make him sympathize with others who experience it. Or the loss of fortune may be required by destiny as a check on developing tendencies, or as preparation for other work.

The possession of wealth is the result of work or worship in the present or in the past life. Physical labor, intense desire, worship of the money god, and continual thought, are the means by which money is obtained. Upon the predominance of any one factor will depend the amount.

The unskilled laborer in field, mine or shop, who uses little thought and does not carefully direct his desire, must work hard and long to earn enough for a scanty existence. With more intense desire and more thought, the laborer becomes skilled and is able to earn more. When money itself—not merely food, clothing and shelter—is the object of desire, thinking provides the means by which it may be obtained. Then wider fields are sought, where money is to be made and greater opportunities are seen and taken advantage of.

To obtain vast sums of money a man must have made money the chief object of his life and have sacrificed other interests to the worship of the money god. When he has paid the price in worship, the money god will put him in touch with other men having the same aims, whom he will be able to use in getting the money he craves, or the money god will put him into a position where he can levy directly or indirectly upon a multitude as in the case of tax-eaters, bondholders, army contractors, government builders or franchise owners. Sometimes the money does not come soon, but then it comes in another life in the shape of inheritance, good fortune, gifts, sinecures or pensions, without present work or worship. Yet such things do not happen except for the work and worship of the past.

According to the right or wrong use of money will one suffer or enjoy what money brings. When money is the chief object of one’s existence, he is unable to enjoy fully the physical things which its use can provide, and money makes him indifferent to the wrongs he does, deaf to the sorrows of others and careless of his own true needs. Money, again, is the Nemesis which is the close and constant companion of those who pursue it. So one who finds pleasure in the hunt for money continues the hunt until it becomes a mad chase. Frequently the long hours of thought and labor required to amass his riches have ruined his health and he dies a discontented man.

Money may open up other sources of misery to the money worshipper. He may use his money in ostentation or vice. He often neglects his children and leaves them to be cared for by others. It may be noticed that insanity and degeneracy are frequent among the idle and luxurious offspring of the rich. In their turn, these degenerate children are the money worshippers of other days. The love of money drew them into a rich family, but money is now a curse.

Different from the future of the mere miser or dollar-hunter is that of those who are unscrupulous and dishonest in the acquisition of money. The lot of successful usurers, engrossers of necessaries, sellers of adulterated food, schemers, promoters and floaters of financial bubbles, is in the future that of common thieves or robbers. Persons who individually or as members of privileged classes obtain through force or corruption special privileges to the injury of others, are legalized robbers. These characters, of thieves and oppressors, which they developed, will find their true expression later, when they are externalized.

Then without the cover of legality, money, station or influence, they are born as rogues, and complain of the injustice of their lot. The born thief who is hounded from birth and soon comes to grief is the successful thief of a past life who plundered or defrauded others without then suffering the consequences. He is now paying the debts which he then incurred, whether he was a pilfering servant, a pickpocket, a common spoiler, a robber baron, a tax-eater, a food engrosser, a bribe-taker or any other kind of a cheat or fraud; whether his acts were labelled as crime or not, they were dishonest, that was enough. If he has had the character of a thief, that character eventually becomes externalized physically, when he is the “born thief,” who “never had a chance.” He is marked, outlawed, convicted and caged as a rogue.

The physical suffering which one may have caused, the poverty which he may have brought to others by outwitting them or by depriving them of their property, must all in turn be suffered by him.

One who overvalues the pleasures and indulgences which money can buy, and uses his money to procure these, must be without money at some time, and feel the need of it. The misuse of money brings poverty; the right use of money brings independence and honest wealth. Money properly procured gives physical conditions for comfort, enjoyment and work for self and others. One who is born of honorable and wealthy parents, or who inherits money, has earned it by his thought and actions; there is no accident of wealth or of inheritance by birth.