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This touchstone called money

12:08 AM March 13, 2017

Who doesn’t want money? And to paraphrase the title of that popular TV show, who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?

Certainly, money is instrumental in meeting our needs and goals in life.

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In “The Psychology of Wealth,” author Charles Richards says those who use money responsibly are “powerful transformers for the currency of society.” Like electric current, money or currency has the power to make our world brighter and lighter.

It is often said that to test a person’s character, give him lots of money and see how he will handle it. Will it make him a benevolent soul, or will it turn him into a selfish, haughty creature?

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American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was born poor but, through hard and honest work, he became a steel magnate. His “Gospel of Wealth” conveys his belief that the rich should serve as stewards of wealth which should be used to help those who can help themselves and improve their lives. Carnegie financed human welfare projects, including libraries, medical research, the promotion of international peace and justice, and recognition of extraordinary acts of heroism.

Oscar Schindler was a powerful Nazi member who followed the prompting of his conscience to carry out a risky mission: to save people from the Holocaust. Using his own money, he built factories so he could hire Polish Jews from the concentration camps. Deeply grateful, the workers gave Schindler a ring etched with this message: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”

Filipino philanthropist Bea Zobel de Ayala spearheads numerous life-changing projects for the urban poor, street children and tribal people. “Given our position in life, helping others creates a balance,” she once wrote in Newsbreak magazine. “Helping people has brought me a lot of happiness. Ultimately, helping others means giving the love of God to my neighbor.”

Ordinary people can be generous, too—out of their sacrificial spirits and the riches of their hearts.

One of them is carinderia-owner Benjie Abad. Recently, a TV network featured Benjie’s share-a-meal project: On certain days, he, his wife Janette and some volunteer workers serve indigent people free meals. Benjie believes “life is too short to be selfish.” As the Bible says, “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in darkness” (Isaiah 58:10).

There are people, however, who use or wish they had wealth solely for self-aggrandizement or selfish motives.

The word “affluenza” was coined from affluence and influenza to refer to a “disorder” among people with lots of money to spend and splurge. Some of the common symptoms: stress over making money; anxiety over losing, or letting go of, money; flamboyance fever; obsession with possessions; amnesia for keeping and maintaining good relationships. Reports say that in the United States, psychologists, called “wealth therapists,” have emerged to “treat” this socially transmitted disease.

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“Love of money causes all kinds of evil,” says the apostle Paul. “Some people, eager for more money, have wandered from their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.”

Just how many men and women are languishing in prison for theft, estafa, graft and corruption and plunder? How many families have been broken by disputes or court battles over wealth?

Truly, this touchstone called money can reveal the real stuff a person’s heart is made of. The Great Gemologist will always be the first one to tell if it’s a heart of dross or a heart of gold.

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Prosy Badiola Torrechante, 70, believes no one’s too old to learn new lessons in life, use them to start anew, and share them with others.

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