We were discussing the financial crisis the other day when I was reminded of a very sweet comment by someone on this blog. He said that when he began his career as an investment banker his supervisor would gather all the team together every day and start the day with prayer.
Morals and Money
The problem with out nation and our economy is not a question of this economic policy or that. It is not a question of communism or capitalism or any other economic ‘ism.’ The question is simply that of individual morality. Communism or capitalism or socialism or distributism or whatever would work if individuals were honest and self sacrificial and caring for their neighbor. Our Lord said, “Love God and love your neighbor. All the law and the prophets hang on these two.” What if our money men loved God and loved their neighbors? Think how different things would be.
I realize that the secularist says that morality does not necessarily have to be linked with religion, and I suppose in theory he is right, but I have never known it to be true in practice, and this is why: it is because morality most often requires a reward or a deterrent to work. It would be nice if people were good because they wanted to be good, and this is indeed the highest form of virtue. However, the reality is that most people are good because they want to be rewarded or because they fear punishment. While this is a lower motivation for virtue, it is nevertheless, effective as far as it goes.
With this in mind, religion begins to play an interesting role in morality. A religion that teaches personal responsibility through the real possibility of heaven or hell is a religion that takes morality seriously. My actions may be modified if I seriously believe there is a price to pay one way or the other. Hopefully I will, through this, learn to love virtue for its own sake, and through the first step of responding through desire for reward or fear of punishment I may move on to a higher response.
Too often we have appealed to people’s higher response while neglecting or dismissing the need for the lower motivation. This is a mistake. People at a lower level of spiritual and moral development need a lower level of motivation–just like a child first learns absolute obedience then learns to understand the reason for the commandment of love.
Think how different, therefore, our society would be if every investment banking department opened the day with prayer. Think how different things would be if every stock broker and every insurance magnate and every commodities broker began his day with prayer and really believed that the decisions he made that day impinged not just on his securities, but on his eternal security.