An Excerpt from “The Soul of Money”
by Lynne Twist
Rarely in our life is money a place of genuine freedom, joy or clarity, yet we routinely allow it to dictate the terms of our lives and often to be the single most important factor in the decisions we make about work, love, family and friendship. There is little that we accept so completely as the power and authority of money and assumptions about how we should feel about it. We challenge assumptions about every other facet of our life: race, religion, politics, education, sex, family and society. But when it comes to money, we accept it not only as a measure of economic value, but also as a way of assigning importance and worth to everyone and everything else in the world.
When we talk about success in life, money is almost the first, and sometimes the only, measure we use for it.
In our private lives, we all, at one time or another, have demeaned and devalued ourselves, taken advantage of people, or engaged in other actions we’re not proud of in order to get or keep money or the power we believe it can buy. We’ve silenced ourselves to avoid conflicts or uncomfortable interactions over money.
Our behavior around money has damaged relationships when money has been used as an instrument of control or punishment, emotional escape, manipulation, or as a replacement for love. Among families of great wealth, many have been poisoned by greed, mistrust and a desire to control others. Their lives of privilege have cut them off from the essential experience of ordinary human interactions and authentic relationships. In lives where money is scarce, the struggle can easily become the defining theme that discounts the self-worth and basic human potential of an individual, a family, or even whole communities or cultures. For some, the chronic absence of money becomes an excuse they use for being less resourceful, productive or responsible than they could be.
Money and Soul: The Great Divide
For most of us, this relationship with money is a deeply conflicted one and our behavior with and round money is often at odds with our most deeply held values, commitments and ideals—what I call our soul. When I talk about soul, I’m not referring to any religious interpretation. When I speak of “our” core values, or higher commitments, I’m not suggesting that we all think or feel the same about politics, religion, economics, and all the other demands, and desires that dominate our day.
I believe that under it all, when you get right down to it and uncover all the things we’re told to believe in, or things we are maneuvered and manipulated to believe in, or even things we choose to believe in, what deeply matters to human beings, our most universal soulful commitments and core values, is the well-being of the people we love, ourselves, and the world in which we live.
We really do want a world that works for everyone. We don’t want children to go hungry. We don’t want violence and war to plague the planet anywhere, even if it’s a distant place. We don’t want torture and revenge and retribution to be instruments of government and leadership. Everyone wants a safe, secure, loving, nourishing life for themselves and the ones they love and really for everyone. We all want a healthy planet, and an opportunity for everyone to have a chance of a healthy, productive life.
I also believe that under their fears and upsets, even the deepest ones, everyone wants to love and be loved, and make a difference with their lives. Speaking in spiritual terms, and not a specific religious sense, I believe people also want an experience of their own divinity, their own connectedness with all life and the mystery of something greater than we comprehend. The money culture has shaped us in many ways that we would not choose in a more conscious soulful process, driving us such that we unwittingly undermine and erode those most deeply human values and highest commitments, and at times turn away from the very ones we profess to hold dear.
About the author:
Lynne Twist is a global activist, fundraiser, speaker, consultant and author. She has dedicated her life to global initiatives that serve the best instincts in all of us. She has raised hundreds of millions of dollars and trained thousands of fundraisers to be more effective in their work. Lynne founded the Soul of money Institute to express her commitment to supporting and empowering people in finding peace and sufficiency in their relationship with money and the money culture.