Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be

By First Posted: Mar 19, 2007 Mon 11:30 AM Updated: Dec 7, 2007 Fri 12:25 AM

Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender be is a well known English proverb. It warns us against the dangers of (a) borrowing money, and (b) of lending money. Both the borrowing and the lending of money are equally undesirable. This truth can very well be attested to by those who have ever in life borrowed money or lent it to some friend or relatives. Thus the proverb is an expression of a universal truth.

The borrowing of money is most undesirable. It makes the borrower extravagant. On borrowed money he lives much beyond his means habituated to a particular style of it, it is difficult to change it, and it is difficult to change it. One borrowing leads to another and then to still another one. The process goes on till all possible persons from whom money can be borrowed have been tapped. Even casual acquaintances are approached for lending petty amounts. Debts keep mounting and when the borrower fails to repay them, he has to sell his assets. Even the residence, if he has one, and the ornaments of the wife, are sold to pay off the debt as is shown in bollywood movies.

Not only does borrowing lead to financial ruin, has it also led to a total loss of social respect. Even close friends and relatives begin to avoid the borrower. He loses all respect among his colleagues and neighbours. Wherever he goes, he is looked down upon. Life becomes intolerable for the wall often commit suicide. In this way, the entire family of the borrower is ruined. The death of the bread-winner means misery and starvation for all those dependent on him for their livelihood.

The lending of money is equally undesirable. The lender is responsible for the wasteful habits of the borrower. He is entirely responsible for the borrowers financial ruin and the misery and suffering of his children. Moreover, one who lends money loses both the friendship and goodwill of the person to whom the money has been lent as well as the money, which he has lent. If the money has been lent to a friend, the friendship comes to an end as soon as a request is made for the repayment of the loan. This is so also in the case of the relatives. Thus the lending of the money is most important and harmful both for the borrower and the lender.

Thus there is much truth in the advice contained in the proverb. However, it will have to be admitted that there are occasions when it becomes unavoidable to borrow money or to lend it. For example, in case of some serious illness in the family it often becomes unavoidable to borrow money even at exorbitant rates of interest. In such hard cases, one is to be excused for borrowing, and the lender for lending him the much needed money. But generally speaking, the advice of the poet is entirely correct. Much misery and heart-burning can be avoided, if it is kept in mind in day to day life.

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