The man in the mirror

Money can so easily cloud our minds and harden our hearts. Jonathan Sachs, the Chief Rabbi in the UK gave a speech in 1998 at the Institute of Economic Affairs on the topic of ‘Market and Morals.’ In this, he told a story of a successful, but unhappy businessman approaching a rabbi with the question, “what’s happening to me?”

The rabbi took the man to a mirror. “What do you see?”  “The outside world – trees, sun, sky …” Then the rabbi took the man to a mirror. “Look into this and tell me what you see.”  “I see myself,”replied the businessman.

“That’s what happens when you cover your world with silver. You see only yourself.”


In the magazine Science, November 2010, a report seems to support the rabbi’s lesson. A series of 9 experiments showed that people who were consistently reminded of money and riches were more independent, less likely to ask for help from others and less willing to help others.

Follow-up experiments showed that people primed by money or riches spent less time helping other people in the test… and that they even gave less money to a study fund in a collection box at the door!

Conclusion of the psychologists? “Those thinking of money, become more individualistic.”

And remember … individualists are all elbows!

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