I was always struck by Jesus' rough condemnation of Mammon. Mammon is the personification of what the New Testament termed "filthy lucre" (Timothy 3:3). Jesus said a person simply couldn't serve two masters, God and Mammon. The obsession with money brings out the very worst in people. You see it time and time again. It makes humans into fools and ogres
In the above painting by Evelyn De Morgan, The Worship Of Mormon, we see a pitiful victim being seduced by the great faceless god, who is teasingly clutching his bag of gold above her as she - it looks to me - is about to separate his legs and begin to perform fellatio (or maybe I just have a vivid and ribald imagination).
It constantly amazes me the way poor people - which represents a vast segment of our populace - is compelled time and again to vote against their very best interests by electing and reelecting politicians who owe their obligations to others, specifically the prophets of Mammon.
The entire idea of paying the freight for the nation we are and providing the services we do for everyone, as well as the paltry efforts we make to protect those who are less well, less able, and less fortunate than the majority of us has been turned upside down into an alleged robbery. If only - the prophets of Mammon tell us - we were allowed to keep more of our money, all would be well.
We are repeatedly told that much of our tax money is being used to support the shiftless riffraff who are just about everyone but us. Little sympathy should be paid to the struggling elderly, it is implied, because, after all, they should have been more careful with their investments along the way so that they could enjoy their nest egg in retirement. And the disabled? Well, let's just not talk much about that. They have their telethons and charities, right?
If all the poor working folks like myself could just keep more of our hard-earned money, then these other problems just wouldn't exist. America would be strong and prosperous. So we are assured, and with the foolishness of the unsympathetic blind eye it can be so - until we become disabled or aged or fall on hard times because our corporate masters find they make even more money by shipping our jobs abroad where the labor is cheaper and the costs are lower.
Now the truth is, even if working folks like myself were allowed to keep all of our earned wages we still wouldn't be rich. The truth is, you can never get rich by merely working for wages.
Which brings me around to the subject of all these lotteries that have become so popular. Again Mammon seduces the gullible against all reason that if we just persevere and keep buying those tickets, we might be the next millionaire.
I'm among those who think of this particular scheme as a tax on the stupid. Poor folks will still dutifully lay aside a few bucks in an effort to become one of them, the rich, the elite. It is a voluntary tax. You don't have to play (I don't at all). But most of those I personally know who play, play more than a dollar here or there. They play often, and the occasional "hit" for a hundred or even a few hundred dollars keeps them hopelessly hooked, feeding the machine that is raping them.
Bloomberg recently had an article about my home state, Georgia Lottery Players Suckers Spending Most for Least, which is enlightening, as well as embarrassing for me as a resident. But I shouldn't feel bad. The story is similar elsewhere across the nation. But bear in mind that while my friends and neighbors are mindlessly copulating with Mammon with negative results for them, they are electing and reelecting those politicians - especially those folks with the (R) after their names - to go and legislate according to the theory that we should be allowed to keep more of our hard-earned money. In fact, my state went overwhelmingly for that businessman Romney over Obama. Heck, he was one of those "job creators," unfortunately most of those jobs were overseas!
So let me make sure I understand this: it is preferable to make an occasional person (who may or may not be one of the shiftless riffraff everyone says they deplore) wealthy than to pay a little more in taxes to try to assure none of our citizens, our friends and neighbors, are consumed by want?
I guess so, and such is the seduction of Mammon. It makes no sense to me, but then I have a heart. I have compassion for my fellow travelers. And those of us do have a heart must lift our voices against those who don't.
In no other area of life - perhaps excepting religion and romance - is logic and wisdom less employed than in the all-consuming pursuit of Mammon. I have quoted something Gandhi said many times on my blog and will here yet again because I think he was right and what he said is important: "There is enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed."
Even the beasts of the field don't act as dastardly as we do in this regard.