It’s not just about the money anymore

At a family party the other day I noticed my brother’s television was on standby. As we were partying, I didn’t expect him to suddenly start watching television so I pointed this out to him. He interpreted my observation as some kind of criticism and I could see from his expression he was preparing his ground.

“I’m paying for the energy so I can do what the hell I like with it.” he said in a mock imperial tone. It’s amazing what a couple of drinks can do to somebody.

“But you’re wasting the energy and this benefits no-one.” I responded.

There then ensued a classic conversation which you could probably multiply by many millions; “Me turning off one tv isn’t going to make any difference.” he asserted.

I didn’t bother to point out that his six watts multiplied by several million other six watts wasted by individual people leaving their tv’s on standby amounted to, well you get the picture.

But it was his unswerving belief that because he had paid for it that he could ‘do what the hell he liked with it’ that made me realise the world had changed. Maybe a few years ago the majority of people would have agreed with him. But today, he is on shaky ground. It is only a short while ago that someone would have insisted, “I paid for that slave and I will do whatever the hell I want with it.” And so they did.

But civilisation becomes more conscious, more responsible, more moral as time passes. In the second world war it was illegal in England to waste food (strange that they had to introduce such a law for starving people. Recent documents show that the government during the war were gorging themselves on gourmet meals while everyone else was on rations. Did they want to make sure that everyone else wasn’t being as profligate as they were?). Slavery is not tolerated in a civilised society today. And if we reduce this monetary stance to its absurd level, what happens then? Imagine a man who becomes so rich and powerful that he is able to purchase the entire world. Is it still acceptable for him to declare, “I paid for this world and I will do whatever the hell I like with it.”?

No, it is not. It’s not just about the money anymore. It’s about me, my children, our town, our country, our planet.

Your money’s no good here.

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