Dirty Money



Of course, we all know money is dirty.

It passes from hand to hand and stranger to stranger. One of the good things that came out of the pandemic is that most of us don’t touch money anymore. A swipe, a tap, and an online transfer from our phone makes “cash” as we knew it irrelevant.

About four years ago, I received a present for a series of golf lessons. I always thought golf was a sport I’d try when I got older and, Ta Da, here I am ready to tee off! In addition to practicing at the driving range, I find that on occasion I watch the game on television.

Just when I was becoming accustomed to the “how” and “why” of the game, another league comes along with new rules of play, challenging the traditional PGA. LIV (which translates from the Roman numeral to the Arabic “54”, which signifies fifty-four holes of golf) is financed by Saudi Arabia, a country with an abysmal human rights record, but, evidently, immeasurable deep pockets of coinage.

The term “dirty money” did catch my attention. A reporter asked Bubba Watson, a former PGA golfer, if he had second thoughts playing for LIV for a $50,000,000 signing bonus given Saudi Arabia’s brutal government. Watson shrugged and said, “Well. All money’s dirty.”

Is it? His net worth after a career on the PGA tour was over ten million dollars. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and something he actually earned and, therefore, nothing that needs to be justified. His response brought back memories of the childhood retort of, “Everybody’s doing it!” Like that makes it okay?

It does raise the question: “Does it matter where the money comes from?” If you study history at all, you may remember that Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid, was formed in 1983 to boycott South Africa in protest of apartheid. Led by Arthur Ashe and Harry Belafonte the group drew attention to South Africa’s policy of acceptance of whites brutality towards Blacks. More than 500 artists and athletes boycotted. Belafonte’s observation regarding the payments the performers were getting in South Africa sound familiar today. “They were paid enormous sums of money–it’s awesome.”

That was decades ago. Now the wealth is in the Middle East. Beyonce performed in Dubai for one night, January 2023. She took home $24,000,000 dollars. Of course, Bey and her husband Jay Z are already billionaires, so she didn’t do it to pay the rent.

Not everyone feels the need to grab “dirty money” just because it’s there. Nicki Minaj pulled out of a concert in Saudi Arabia because she says she wants to show support for women’s rights, gay rights, and freedom of expression. “While I want nothing more than to bring my show to fans in Saudi Arabia, after better educating myself on the issues, I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, and freedom of expression.”

[Honest reveal here. I’ve heard of Nicki Minaj, but don’t know her music or videos. Hell, I even had to look up the correct spelling of her name. But she certainly deserves a shout out.]

Speaking of “dirty money,” I can’t even begin to name all the elected politicians who accept blood money from the NRA. You can look it up. (If by chance you’re reading this without any knowledge of the author, please don’t bother responding to me by quoting the 2nd amendment. If you can state the additional amendments, other than your self-serving 1st, 2nd, and eventually the 5th, congratulations.)

The supporters of the NRA’s “dirty money” should take note of the following statistics. Since Columbine there have been –

  •           380 school shootings.
  •           175 children have been killed.
  •           554 children have been victims.
  •           311,000 children have been exposed to gun violence in schools.
  •           Millions of children are exposed to “Active-Shooter” drills.

How much money is enough? At what price? Can anyone be bought? Where do we draw the line? When do we take responsibility? How do we explain to family and friends that other lives don’t matter?

Not all money is “dirty” nor is money the root of all evil. “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” [1 Timothy 6:10] True back in Biblical times. Definitely true today. Our choice.