Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good Name v Riches


"I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, honey, rich is better."
- Sophie Tucker (Also Mae West, Gertrude Stein. Depending on your source.)

Crazy little thing called money. Some people have tonnes of money and it replaces God in their lives. Some others have loads of it and it becomes a curse in their lives. Some have it in tankloads and they remain totally happy, totally humble, committed to their God and in their hands money becomes an instrument of lifting fellow human beings out of the rot, and also a tool for promoting the word of God. Still money, enables the wicked to achieve evil and spread it wide.

At the other end are those who don't have money. Many of them don't have money because they are not wicked enough to take ruthless business decisions, or they are just too chicken to take risks in life. Some are poor just because they were born poor and society and nature have never given them the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

Poverty limits some while it fires up some. There are people whose faiths prevent from doing something drastic, even moderately dishonourable, just because they wish to preserve their good names, and would rather die, or let their children die before they could be found putting a foot wrong that could stain their names.

How does anyone really deal with something as good and as bad as money? Should we regard it as the root of all evil and treat it with caution, or should we go after it with all our mights knowing that money is like electricity. As I write this, somewhere in the world somebody is using electricity to save a life, or to create something beneficial to mankind. Somewhere right now, somebody is using electricity to kill someone else, or for the purpose of committing a crime. Just like money, isn't it? Somebody will die today because he cannot afford his medicine or food. Somebody has enough to feed his family and enough over that to give away to the poor.

So then, what is better? A good name or riches? In Proverbs 22:1 the good book says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than riches." I remember one of our family friends in Nigeria, Chief Humphrey Okoli goes by the title of Ezi aha ka ego. i.e a good name is better than money. I always said to him that he should modify his name to Ezi aha na ego, i.e. a good name AND money.

I contend that while it is true that a good name is better than riches for socio-political and perhaps spiritual reasons, we live in a world where regardless of your race, religion, or any other pigeon-hole you wish to stick yourself in, for practical purposes, if you can make a lot of money without losing your good name, it is much better.