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Post details: God and Gold

God and Gold

We humans are imperfect creations. When no one is watching over us we tend to stray from the right path and succumb to the lure of unbridled chicanery and general corruption. Just reading the Old Testament alone will give you plenty of food for thought. From Sodom and Gomorrah to the Noah's Ark - debauchery, overindulgence and idolatry ran rampant. The image of the hoary Charlton Heston descending from Mt Sinai into the middle of a free-for-all orgy and throwing the stone tablets into the fire in disgust comes to mind. Sadly, not much has changed over the past 3,000 years.

But the strength of our moral fiber is not the only quality in question. When it comes to money, we are not much better off. Ever since the Ancient Rome, the ruling elites invariably fell prey to the possibility of stretching the reach of their currency by inflation. In order to satisfy their growing needs they took the easy path and rather than making hard choices and taking responsibility they just kept chipping away the underlying value. That would tie them over for a bit but the eventual monetary downfall was inevitable. At the end, both currency and ethics followed the same path - which is down and out. Down the drain and out the chimney.

I thought about this inherent vulnerability of our species the other day and realized that the slowly evolving mankind had really needed a pair of crutches to overcome this debilitating weakness. A source of strength that would have supported our growth until such time that our own character would have been sufficiently developed - both in the moral and monetary sense. To put it simply, we needed to brace our soft flesh with a solid steel backbone. With a structure that would be robust, easily understandable and preferably outside of our finite realm so that our cunning fellow evolvees wouldn't feel tempted to tamper with it.

You can probably guess what could constitute such supportive skeleton. In the monetary field it is Gold and in the moral one God. And humanity took full advantage of either. These entities may seem unrelated at first, but on closer inspection they provided us with the same service. They established a firm footing and a relatively incorruptible standard for our many endeavors. With a bit of exaggeration - God became our spiritual gold and gold played the role of our monetary God. They both clearly transcended our transient physical existence and thus built a mechanism that removed the arbitrariness of our chaotic ways and tied the hands of those who would like to serve only their particular interests. In other words, they made sure that our collective actions were measured and guided by something higher than any single one of us.

No, I am not proposing that we should return to the Gold standard at once or that religion is to become mandatory part of our life. I am merely reflecting on our propensity to abuse power and pointing out two support mechanism which - historically speaking - served humanity well. You can think of them as a pair of everlasting horses that we hitched to our ephemeral cart on the way to enlightenment. Are we now strong enough to pull the cart ourselves now? Only time will give the definitive answer to that. But perusing the political blogs tonight, I'd say we are not quite there yet.

cc

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