Root of All Evil and Fount of Happiness

Published: 28th August 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th August 2014 11:14 PM   |  A+A-

Hard cash is something most of us need but seldom have enough of. No matter what may be said to the contrary, money is as vital as food and water, indeed the very air that we breathe. That it makes the world go round is an undisputed fact.

Some claim that money isn’t all that matters.   Yet, viewed dispassionately, it undoubtedly is.   Just try boarding a bus without the required fare—you’ll face immediate eviction! Similarly, with inflation soaring, many justifiably lament that money has lost its value. But if you want to know the real value of money, just try to borrow some.

Paradoxically, having too much money is as bothersome as having too little—the rich attract the tax-man and the poor the wolf! Yet, without money, would there be as much happiness (and envy) around us as there is today? I sometimes try to imagine a Utopian world where everyone is uniformly wealthy, but the resentment this would inevitably create needs no mention.   Equality in wealth would be unacceptable to most people; having a monetary edge over others is always welcome.

It’s well-known that financial security eludes many because they persist in living well beyond their income, so much so that they seem to be living apart! Then there are also those who try to live within their means—with borrowed money. Improvidence is the bane of their lives.

Honesty, we are told, pays. But it doesn’t seem to pay enough to suit some people who prefer to make a fast buck by questionable means, taking the gullible for a ride in the process. There are also people who claim that they despise riches—but they usually mean the riches of others, not their own!

Be neither a borrower nor a lender, counselled Shakespeare. But what does one do if one’s constantly broke? I’m reminded of a Beetle Bailey episode where the impecunious GI takes his girlfriend out to dinner—and she ends up footing the hefty bill! I once asked a perpetually hard-up friend how he managed to make ends meet.   “Simple!” he grinned, “I fit them with elastic!”

As a cash-strapped teenager in boarding school in the 1950s, I often found it hard to stretch my none-too-princely pocket-money of 2 annas (12 paise) per week. Tuck-shop snacks, the clandestine pack of cigarettes (for that pseudo feeling of manliness!), “bunking” for a late-night movie and bribing my pals to do my homework, usually left me in the red. And then, as now, creditors had better memories than debtors!

Withdrawing money from an ATM is now child’s play but replenishing one’s bank account certainly isn’t. As a wit observed, money in a bank is like toothpaste in a tube: easy to take out but hard to put back.

Inextricably linked to our happiness, money does dominate our lives willy-nilly. It may be the root of all evil but it’s also undoubtedly the fount of all happiness!


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