BY SHARON VAN ARNEMAN
You and your three siblings have always gotten along relatively well and you thought the relationship you all shared was pretty solid, so you were unprepared for the ugliness that erupted when your parents passed. They had left behind a pretty sizable inheritance, and although there was a written will stipulating how the money was to be divided, every time a meeting was held to finalize details, you never quite knew what to expect. Tempers would flare and bitter words exchanged, making any attempts at having an amicable discussion futile. Today, none of you are on speaking terms with each other.
Like so many others, in the wake of this pandemic, your salary got cut drastically. Finding it increasingly more difficult to make ends meet, you decide to apply to the Sint Maarten Stimulus and Relief Plan (SSRP) for some assistance. When finally you receive a response from SSRP, it is not the answer you had hoped for: “Your application has been denied.” The reason leaves you completely floored: “Your employer has received Payroll Support for your wages.” In disbelief, you wonder at the kind of employer that would take such an unfair advantage of their employees.
You have always been one to pay your bills on time and take care of your affairs independently, even managing to put some money aside for rainy days. But after getting one bad break after another, you fall on hard times through no fault of your own. Knowing you to be a trustworthy person, your good friend has no qualms about loaning you some money until you get your tax refunds in the next month or two. When the tax office is late processing tax refunds and you’re unable to pay your friend back at the appointed time; your friend becomes hostile, hurling insults and threats at you.
What is it about money that seems to so often bring out the worst in people? Why do so many find it so easy to not be bothered by dishonest gain? How does one rationalize the kind of greed that drives a mom or a dad, a husband or a wife to spend all their free time working to make more and more money, to the neglect of their family? It is cause for alarm when money becomes more important to us than enjoying our marriage, more important than raising our children, more important than our relationships. For that person who always seems to be wanting to acquire just a little bit more money, when will enough ever really be enough?
Let me pause here to say that I’m not discounting having money – because we all need money for our day to day operations – but we cannot not agree that we need to have the right perspective about money: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” the Bible warns. “And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”
We would all do well to remember that, as so eloquently expressed by Henrik Ibsen, “Money may be the husk of many things, but not the kernel. Money can buy you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; splendour, but not warmth; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; quiet days, but not peace.”
To contact Sharon,
write to P.O. Box 484,
Philipsburg, St. Maarten,