MONEY is the buzzword these days. People who have it in truck-loads are hankering for more; those that do not, spend the better part of their day cribbing about it; the ones out of either category while away their time wondering whether they are coming or going. Be that as it may, it is money that remains the centre of everybody’s universe! The money game is fast taking the place of the rat race. Money cannot buy happiness, goes the well-worn cliché. The fact remains, though, that most people continue to believe that money does buy a hell of a lot of things that, in the troubled world of today, help keep sadness at bay. The aforementioned may not make a lot of sense to the uninitiated, but, then, how many things in our ken do (make sense, that is)? Look at it in any way you like, the fact remains that in today’s crazed world whoever underestimates the importance of money does so at his, or her, own peril.
Take one case in recent history, if you will. The ill-starred Saddam Hussein, nabbed long ago by the Americans, reportedly had a bundle of cash to keep him company. What he intended to do with the three-quarters of a million US dollars that the American press claimed he had on his person never became clear! For all one knows, it may well be the mere proximity of hard cash that provides a certain feeling of warmth or sense of security to an individual. Not that it has ever been of any tangible help when it came to the crunch. But human nature being what it is, money has always had and, presumably, will always have a certain allure for humankind.
If any one has any qualms whatever about the good points of money, they should be shed right away considering the way hordes of people in the Land of the Pure, who aught to know better, are hankering after the stuff. How can so many people be wrong? Yet our intellectuals and thinkers insist on clinging to their line of thought that “money is the root of all evil”. Could it be sour grapes, one wonders? There is the moot point, though, whether lots of money can actually add to one’s popularity. One knows that parasites and hangers-on often congregate around moneyed people, but then can these species really be termed as “friends”? Having pots of money, though, does raise a person’s apparent status in society.
History of the love affair between Man and money would make interesting reading. For one thing, one finds that power and money somehow go hand in hand. Which comes first is the moot point. It is awfully hard to tell though, being somewhat akin to a chicken or egg syndrome. There are people who are born with silver spoons in their mouths, as they say. This class of people goes about taking advantage of their wealth to acquire influence and eventually to capture power. And if in the process the wealth too gets a boost, that is part of the game and is all to the good! Then there are others who take advantage of their power and influence to amass wealth. Either way, the purists would insist, it hardly brings honour to the individuals concerned.
Let us move on to another historical case. Some years ago, the German television had aired a documentary entitled “Hitler’s Money”. This documentary appeared to insinuate that the Fuhrer, in addition to doing what he had set himself to do, actually spent much of his spare time in amassing, what was termed as, a vast fortune. There you have it in a nutshell! Whichever way you look at things, the stench of money creeps in somehow! Thanks to the German television documentary aforementioned, one now knows that even Hitler, of wretched memory, failed to escape the temptation and keep his nose clean!
Be that as it may, the study of the mad quest for fortunes by the history’s high and mighty should make an interesting subject for research. Though a lot of individual treatises on the subject may be at hand, no attempt has apparently been made to study this very arresting phenomenon in its entirety. Why do despots, for instance, feel the urge for stashing away all those dirty millions when they already possess all the power and glory to revel in? Would it be because they suffer from an insecurity complex of sorts? While on this lamentable subject, how about giving a thought or two to the tendency shown by the already rich and powerful to rake in even more by the sack-full? It is a well-known fact, authenticated by recent history, that most of them have not lived long enough to enjoy the loot – or, in some cases, to regret it! And yet, human nature being what it is, humankind continues to tread on the same beaten path, refusing to learn a lesson or two from history. All one can surmise is that money has somehow always exercised a bizarre fascination for humankind. And, as history is witness, that there is no limit to Man’s hankering for more.
If one had the desire to delve a bit deeper into this somewhat sordid affair, one could indulge in a bit of research into the all too obvious linkage between power and the urge to rake in millions. Power begets money and money, in turn, gives rise to the urge to grab power. It is a vicious cycle of sorts. If one looks into recent and not too recent history one cannot help noticing that those who enjoy unlimited power end up by raking it in by the sack full. If one turns it around, those who have tons of the stuff and enough to spare instinctively turn towards grabbing more and more power. Ultimately, it is extremely difficult to pin the whole thing down. As mentioned earlier, it boils down to something of a hen and egg situation. What comes first? On second thought, it would perhaps be preferable not to touch on this somewhat delicate subject, since it is bound to touch a raw nerve or two!
— The writer is a former ambassador and former assistant secretary general of OIC.