When I tell people that I write about money, some respond by crinkling their nose and saying, "Money? But that's not what matters in life!"
And then – more often than not – they'll repeat that famous phrase, "money is the root of all evil."
Well, that's not exactly how the saying goes. Although that phrase is ingrained in mainstream pop culture today, it takes its roots in a Biblical verse that reads: "The LOVE of money is the root of all evil."
Since this month's Jungle of Life theme is love, let's take a second to explore the love of money.
What Do You Love?
If I asked you to make a list of things you love, what would you write?
Family, friends and pets come to mind immediately, of course. Then people start listing objects and activities.
"I love ice cream," – an object.
"I love to swim," – an activity.
"I love that cozy sweatshirt I've had since high school," – an object.
"I love to paint," – an activity.
No one thinks its wrong to love an object or an activity – unless that object is "money" or that activity is "making money."
When people tell me that money is the root of all evil, I reply that money is simply an inanimate object, like a coffee mug or a garden hose. It has no innate good or evil. That quality comes from the meaning we assign to it.
According to the "root of all evil" expression, money itself is fine. Loving money is not. But why?
It's okay to love ice cream, cozy sweatshirts, warm socks, Van Gogh paintings and the orange tea kettle that your sister gave you six years ago. Why is money singled out as the one object that it's not okay to love?
I picked those examples for a reason. I'm betting no one objects to loving "ice cream and warm socks," but some people would object to loving sports cars, glitzy mansions and emerald necklaces. Why? Because those objects remind people of money.
This is usually the point where someone says, "Hold on. A mega-mansion uses tons of environmental resources."
True. But so does ice cream production, from the methane-emitting cows to the cost of maintaining a sub-zero freezer truck.
The tea kettle you use to drink Jasmine Green Tea required someone to build a factory, produce a kettle mold, inspect the kettle, package it, deliver it, market it, account for its revenue and loss, and legally protect it.
Everything uses resources and costs money. Why pretend that it doesn't?
I believe that "love of money is the root of all evil" is only half the story. I believe that phrase is talking about a blind, jealous, possessive love. The phrase "love of money" is referring to the type of co-dependent love that causes the two partners to become lesser, instead of more whole.
But I do think we owe it to ourselves to create a healthy love for money.
Here's a radical idea: Why not "love" money by being a good steward over it? Nurture and protect your money, in the same the way you might nurture and protect your garden.
Steer clear of possessive, co-dependent love, the kind that causes you to stagnate. Move towards a wholesome love in which both you and your money are able to grow freely.
Money, after all, is a tool that can buy acres of rainforest, send your nephew to college without student loans, and pay for the veterinary appointments that your puppy needs. It's okay to love money for the life it gives you.
by Paula Pant