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Lesson 1 History of Money What money really is and where it gets its power.

Page 6 - The Concept of Luxury
When you hear the word luxury how do you feel? Does it bring to mind glorious pleasures? Does it bring to mind overindulgent excesses? How do you feel about people enjoying luxury? Do they deserve it or are they taking money away from poor people and making them suffer while they laugh at their poverty?

It may come as a surprise that luxury, as a socially acceptable trait, is a very new concept. It may come as a bigger surprise that luxury for most of civilized history was thought of as a sin and a crime often punishable by death. In the Old Testament luxury was thought of as the neglect of necessity and the forgetting of one’s place in the hierarchy. It taught that one must be indifferent to personal and social condition. As luxury was the most heinous of sins, its punishment was to be justly fierce, extending to enslavement and execution.

The Greek view of luxury was a secular and rational complement to the Hebrew view. The Apollonian tradition exhorted men to recall that necessity and morality set strict limits upon individuals and that pleasure and happiness were subject to the constraints of rationality.

A good example of how this thought persisted was in England just prior to the American Revolution. For the period of 1721-1771 there were more than 460 books and pamphlets printed that discussed luxury. While many were in favor of personal prosperity, most were convinced that it would lead to the end of civilization and fought vigorously against it.

The argument went like this: You should not want or think about moving beyond your birthright. If you were a slave you should not think of freedom, if you were a woman you should not think beyond affairs of the household. A peasant should not seek to be a landowner, a landowner should not seek to be king and a king should not seek to be God. You were born into a place and there you should stay. This was not enforced just by social pressure but by law.

As example there was the Waltham Black Act of 1723; the measure itself constituted a complete criminal code. There was hardly a criminal act that did not come within the provisions of the Black Act: offenses against public order, against the administration of criminal justice, against property, against the person, malicious injuries to property of varying degree—all came under this statute and all were punishable by death. The act not only provided capital punishment for vandals, poachers, and the like, but also encouraged landowners to supply their own punishment in the form of mantraps and spring guns.

When you begin to understand how thousands of years of cultural conditioning has been imbedded into our consciousness, it begins to be easier to see why many people are uncomfortable with luxury. For years the just the thought of pursuing luxury would get you killed! No wonder many of us don’t feel comfortable with the idea of luxury for ourselves and resent others who do enjoy luxury.

With the understanding that prosperity has long been discouraged it’s easier to understand why people may still struggle with the concept. Our purpose here is to redefine our thinking and plant the seeds of prosperity in clean fresh soil that is ready to nourish our thoughts and provide a solid foundation for our actions. So let’s find out where we are today. Let’s play a money game.

Prosperity Games
Game #1 A Footlocker Full of Money
Imagine that there’s’ a knock on your door and when you open it up there’s a huge footlocker with your name on it and a note that says, “This is for you.” When you take it inside you find that it’s filled with cash, you don’t know how much but it’s more money than you’ve ever seen before. You read the note again and realized that indeed this money is meant for you. Answer the following:

1. How do you feel? Are you overjoyed or overwhelmed?
2. What will you do now?
3. Does having this money bring problems?

Spend some time with these questions and then consider this. If you think money brings problems then you have a problem with money. Any problem that would arise could be solved by the money itself. If you don’t know how to invest it you could pay someone to invest it for you. If all else fails you could simply take your name off the footlocker and push the money back out the door.

On To Page 7

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