The relations between money and morality are very controversial and argued a lot about. In any society politicians, philosophers, priests and other members of society have different understandings of the notion of morality and its influence on financial issues, or vice verse the influence of money upon morality choices. It is really difficult to make any concrete statements about general ideas of money and morality cohabitation. For some people morality is associated with Christian laws not to kill, not to steal and so on; for others the ten percent of the income, given to the church, seem to redeem any evil deeds and so on.
In this paper we will concentrate on the views of morality and money correlation, presented by Mohandas K. Gandhi in his speech on Economy and Moral progress, study the examples, he provides there, in order to try to come closer to the truth about moral and economical progresses in any society.
First of all we would like to state, that even if on the surface the views of Gandhi might seem far from modern world and absolutely not economically real, within a more profound consideration these ideas seem quite modern, because they are uniform and do not belong to any certain period of historical development. His approach is not one-sided either, as he treats the subject of discussion from political, theological, historical sides.
Very important are Gandhi’s ideas about western civilization and progress. Does economic progress clash with real progress? By economic progress, I take it, we mean material advancement without limit and by real progress we mean moral progress, which again is the same thing as progress of the permanent element in us. The subject may therefore be stated thus: Does not moral progress increase in the same proportion as material progress?’ I know that this is a wider proposition than the one before us. But I venture to think that we always mean the larger one even when we lay down the smaller (Gandhi, 339). Here Gandhi attacks modern materialism, but he is talking about materialism, which is a serious obstacle for moral progress and no way for scientific progress. Our understanding of this idea is that material, financial gains, even if constantly increasing, have nothing to do with morality growth, on the contrary very often they lead to decrease of moral values or even complete ignorance of them. People, who are used to struggle for money as the major life goal, step by step start to apply methods for increasing of their financial profit, which are further and further from accepted moral norms. The truth is that people are never fully satisfied with what they have at the moment, they tend to strive for more, especially, when it is related to their financial wealth. Often they are ready to cross the moral critical point, the border between human and inhuman.
Another idea of Gandhi is very interesting here: This rapid growth of wealth and increase of our power over nature put too great a strain upon our crude civilization, on our superficial Christianity, and it was accompanied by various forms of social immorality almost as amazing and unprecedented (Gandhi, 342). This is evident, that people learnt how to seize more power over nature, how to better use its resources and to build business and make money on this. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean, that the whole mankind got advantages from this, no, only those, who were able to use the work of lower standing classes, who knew how to give bribes, how to cheat and to get use of the situation, were able to get enormous earnings. This is actually an inevitable unofficial law of our modern society – we should still have, as we have always had, in our midst people who make the pursuit of wealth their aim in life. But we have always recognized that it is a fall from the ideal. It is a beautiful thing to know that the wealthiest among us have often felt that to have remained voluntarily poor would have been a higher state for them (Gandhi, 341). This is true, that those, who have wealthy possessions, would almost never be ready to refuse from everything and give out their money, houses and so on to others just for nothing. In the best cases they are ready to provide some kind of financial help for example to homeless children or hospitals.
Thus the question of morality progress still remains without answer, can we state, that economical progress subjugates morality? Actually no, it doesn’t. Is the morality decline directly related to growth of wealth? Almost always it is. Can somebody change the whole order of the society in order to make it more morality oriented? No, there is probably nobody to do this at the moment. The only way to sustain moral values is to stop and to think about real goals in our life for everybody, to realize if we are living for money and financial wealth or we are living for our future generations or for our souls.