Wealth Should Serve Humanity

This principle is an important one. By serving humanity, it should serve you, your family, and your community. Not the other way around. On the most immediate level, there is the whole, “I feel completely controlled by my money” thing, where your lack of control is in your own behaviors, or you have an unhealthy dedication to the pursuit and accumulation of wealth. But then there’s the broader issue that wealth in the national and global society is being amassed and consolidated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. The principle of wealth serving humanity then impacts how wealth is obtained, distributed, and utilized.

To generate and obtain wealth, we should not run or support companies that use people in a degrading manner, who pay as little as possible, for as few hours as possible, with as few benefits as possible in order to secure increasing quarterly profits for shareholders. Rather, when employee ownership is offered in the company, the mindset shifts and we consider how we’re treating our fellow owners, and they likewise are more motivated to contribute – and benefit – from the growth of the enterprise. If we’re in a position to arrange this type of corporate structure, or to form a co-operative, it would behoove us to think and then act in these terms.

When wealth is distributed to serve humanity’s interests, we consider who gives and is given funds, over which they have discretion, to determine for themselves how the monies are to be utilized. The understanding that one’s personal welfare is bound up with the welfare of the whole shifts the perspective that distributing wealth by “donating to poor people” may in fact be patronizing and degrading, fostering dependency. To recognize the inherent value of and contribution each human being can make in this world, shifts our perspective to that of a collaborative relationship, born of mutual respect. Trust is built up that individuals can determine for themselves their needs and how best to meet them. Part of this is their own spiritual journey, which one can only tread for oneself. (And let’s be honest here, when it comes to spending and managing money, are we all not a work in progress? Do any of us want to be judged or criticized for our choices? The level of our income is the only differentiator here and it is not license to throw rocks… O ye people in glass houses.) But it also means then a manner of distributing income that is borne from an individual’s own sense of joy and desire, rather than compulsion. An individual could technically be one who receives and distributes, is a benefactor and beneficiary. Distributing wealth can be carried out in myriad ways, through taxes, donations to organizations or wealth re-distribution channels, or even through the financing of social enterprises that help multitudes secure their own livelihood.

How we utilize wealth then should require the use of clear principles and rules. Otherwise, wealth is used thoughtlessly, frittered away, or put to use for more selfish purposes. The principles of moderation and contentment would dictate that if we notice that one school has sufficient resources while another has too few, we would question if the first really needs extra on top of what they have, and suggest a better use of the wealth would go toward ensuring that every student could have the opportunity to learn and cultivate their innate capacities. I’m all for children being given the technology, tools, and training they need to make their contributions in the world, but when others lack even drinkable water in their schools due to insufficient funding (and there are only 15 working computers for 300 students), then we need to have a serious conversation about the principles related to its distribution and then on what and for what purpose we use that wealth. If wealth is utilized to serve humanity, then it would imply spending on projects, services, and infrastructures that benefit the whole. Who decides WHICH projects warrant funding? This is where the principle of consultation comes into play, and is discussed later.

This book is a work in progress and we’ll all benefit from your input and collaboration. In the “Leave a Reply” below, please post examples, comments, questions, and needed edits. By posting, you grant permission for inclusion of any content to become part of the book, now or in the future, in whatever form it may take. I’ll give attributions to the extent possible. I know sharing about our financial lives can be sensitive, so if you want to share anonymously, please use the contact form instead and I’ll honor your request.

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