“Money is like fire, an element as little troubled by moralizing as earth, air and water. Men can employ it as a tool or they can dance around it as if it were the incarnation of a god” — Lewis Lapham
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In this quote, Lewis Lapham is again emphasizing that money itself is morally neutral. He uses the metaphor of fire to suggest that money, like fire, air, water and earth, is a natural element or tool that is not inherently good or bad.
Lapham argues that while some may “dance around” money and treat it as if it were a god to be worshipped, the wiser approach is to understand that money is simply a tool that can be employed productively or destructively depending on how humans choose to use it.
Overall, the quote conveys Lapham’s view that money derives its meaning from human intentions and actions, not from any tendency or character of its own, and it is a mistake to ascribe money with moral qualities it does not possess.