Let’s talk about the monsters in each one of us.

Many times in the past, I’ve stood next to $50,000 or more in drug money.

Half a hundred thousand dollars in small bills lying on a desk.

The room with the money is filled wit various lawmen counting the money, guarding it.

We’re all stuffed in the small room, as close to that money as pleasure is to sin.

I’m photographing the money because the Sheriff’s Department in some county where I used to work confiscated it as part of a drug investigation.

Evil hangs on that money like a shroud on a corpse. After you touch that money you want to scrub your hands. Hard.

That tainted money is bait. Like blood in the water draws sharks, that loose cash lures to the surface things lurking in the dark side of each of us.

That money is a sorcerer calling to a demon deep within each of us.

And the demon from the blackest depths of the human soul always -- always -- comes when called.

And then it must be faced.

I don’t care who you are --lawman, reporter, preacherman, soon-to-be-risen saint, whoever. The demon of temptation lives in each one of us.

Large, loose sums of cash make you realize that temptation is more than just a word the preacher uses Sunday morning.

It’s a reality. Like gravity, you can’t see it, but its effects are clear indeed.

Dirty money makes you covet it. Perhaps it’s because sometimes there’s no apparent owner.

Perhaps it’s because if there is an owner, you think he or she doesn’t deserve that money.

You, of course, do. Our capacity for self-deceit is boundless.

Most of us don’t feel covetous about cleaner sorts of money, such as a cash payroll, a church offering, a friend’s money.

I don’t care who you are, how holy a man or woman you are. Deep in your heart of hearts you covet that dirty money.

You think to yourself what you would do if you had that money. And that, or course, means taking the money.

Of course, what you would do with the money, how nobly you would use it doesn’t make any difference.

You might want to buy the church a new building, or finance your kid’s college education or pay someone’s crushing medical bills.

Whatever the reason, you covet. And coveting -- desiring that which is another’s --is wrong. So is taking.

All rationalizations of use or motivation are only self-delusions after the fact, only smearing cosmetics on the corpse, only putting the best face on a dead issue.

And while you’re coveting, no matter how briefly, you’ve conveniently forgotten that there is blood on that money.

You’ve forgotten that that money came from people who would do anything -- anything at all -- to get it. Those people would rob you for a dollar, kill you for five, smilingly sell you their own children.

And with that money buy the chemicals that, for awhile, stop the terrible uncontrollable craving.

Of course, those chemicals caused the craving to start with. And they only reinforce the craving.

They make the craving go away for a little while, while insuring it will stay around forever.

What becomes of this money?

The courts allow it to be divided by the law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation. It’s a legal example of finders keepers, anointed with holy water to by the justice system to make the process pure.

The ancient Greeks had it right. One of their myths was Scylla -- a mythical creature that, once viewed by seafaring men, lured the men and their ships to their doom.

Dirty money -- to look is to be tempted.

And too many people nowadays can resist anything but temptation…

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