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Desire for wealth

The desire for wealth does not need to be taught; it is an integral part of all human nature. Hence, when young men in the army attack cities and scale back walls, break through the enemy lines and drive back the foe … it is because they are spurred on by the prospect of rich reward...

In like manner, when the women of Chao and the maidens of Cheng paint their faces and play upon the large lute, flutter their long sleeves and trip about in pointed slippers, invite with their eyes and beckon with their hearts, considering it no distance at all to travel a thousand miles to meet a patron, not caring whether he is old or young, it is because they are after riches …

When officials in the government juggle with phrases and twist the letter of the law, carve fake seals and forge documents, heedless of the mutilating punishments of the knife and saw that await them if they are discovered, it is because they are drowned in bribes and gifts …

Thus men apply all their knowledge and use all their abilities simply in accumulating money. They never have any strength left over to consider the question of giving some of it away.
SIMA QIAN

Sima Qian (135 – 86 BC) was a Chinese historian of the Han dynasty. He is considered to be China's grand historian for his work which documed two thousand years of history from the Yellow Emperor to his time, during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han.

The comment above shows is helpful in reminding us that long before Adam Smith, others had recognised that selfish interest and the desire for accumulation is at the heart of much of human endevour. As Lord Jesus noted we are either serving God or pursuing our own selfish ends (mammon).

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2014

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