Money and Dignity (EP.47)



There is a lot of talk from some quarters supporting giving people what they need in areas like healthcare and housing, as well as in cash, with a growing call for a guaranteed income. The reasons given include these benefits being “human rights” and that conferring these benefits and cash will allow the recipients to live in “dignity.” The truth: like a feeling of accomplishment, dignity cannot be granted, it can only be earned.

Links and References

Life is Hard

Brother’s Keeper

Give a Man a Fish


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Money and dignity are connected: Dignity comes from working hard to earn it. You have heard the expression that, “Money is the root of all evil.” That’s not at all correct. The original text in the bible is, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” This is a key distinction. Let’s make another vital distinction: It is not money that confers dignity, it is doing your absolute best to earn it that does. Money confers the ability to buy things; doing your best confers dignity. John Wooden, three-time collegiate basketball champion as a player, professional player, and the best college coach of all time, said, “Focus on effort, not winning. Winning is a byproduct of effort.” He consistently emphasized the importance of doing your best over winning. Here’s another, “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” Isn’t Coach Wooden saying that dignity comes from the courage to do your best whether you are succeeding or failing at the moment?

Telling people that giving them money gives them dignity does two terrible things:

  1. It robs them of learning that working for that cash is the only money-connected path to dignity and
  2. The recipients will develop a vague but powerful and deep-seated emptiness where that deeply satisfying earned dignity feeling should be. What will they fill that emptiness with? Nothing good. It is irreplaceable.


  1. Like a feeling of accomplishment, dignity cannot be granted, it can only be earned.
  2. Whenever at all warranted, we should treat each other with dignity. The key here is that the people treating others with dignity are honoring themselves, casting dignity upon themselves, not bestowing dignity on the other person. Dignity cannot be granted, it can only be earned.

Now, let’s apply the two Revolution 2.0 main tenets to today’s podcast. The two main tenets that we believe at Revolution 2.0 are:

  1. Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
  2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper.

Paraphrasing St. Francis, “Always teach personal responsibility, and when you must, use words.” Practicing personal responsibility is hard. As is anything worthwhile. After all, Life is Hard. But more than worth doing well. Paraphrasing Will Luden, teaching through example is a powerful, and often thankless, way of being your Brother’s Keeper. Do it anyway.

We often fail–I often fail–and our brothers and sisters often fail. That’s why we are called to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers. Encourage them, love them; hold them accountable when necessary, love them; teach them, love them. Note where the emphasis is. Speaking of teaching, I invite you to check out, “Give A Man A Fish…”

We will unpack this and more in future podcasts starting with the next cast on Tuesday the 31st: “Workfare.”. Revolution 2.0 publishes two podcasts and related blogs each week; midday on Tuesdays and Fridays. Twice a week, every week.

it is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Revolution 2.0, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.

Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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One Response

  1. Charles Cabral Reply

    Proverbs 30: 8-9 …give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.
    I think at some point we have to consider the conditions that we are creating (or contributing to) for others. Am I participating in a system that denies others the opportunity to gain dignity? You are correct that handouts do not convey dignity, but there are many ways to help others overcome barriers to achievement such as lack of education, no available plumbing or physical limitations.

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