Sunday, July 14, 2019

Chasing Money

At this particular moment in time, I am secure enough in the fiscal sense that I do not need to chase projects for the money. That has not always been the case, and it will surely be a fleeting sense of relief. The welcome respite gives me pause in another way, more restless and disturbing than gratifying. It calls into question the idea that money should be a motivator, that everything be framed in the sense of income and expenditures.


The constant implication in our lives is that we have a responsibility to earn an income, a responsibility to spend it and invest it to keep the economy going, and that taxation is the villain that keeps us from fully realizing our financial potential. Those directives come from those already wealthy, who attained their power by hoarding money. We think that money is the matrix that holds our lives together, and we need to free our minds of that foolish belief.

We think that money is the matrix that holds our lives together, and we need to free our minds of that foolish belief.

The only currency of any relevance and importance is energy. Some may equate energy with love, or some other emotion or notion, but what I am talking about is metabolic energy. That is the currency of living ecosystems, and it flows freely among all organisms. There is minimal banking of metabolic energy. Plant tubers might be one example. Bears putting on fat for the winter is another. These situations are the minority, though. Energy usually passes quickly through the food web.

Economies can be viewed as redundant and inefficient ecosystems in which every niche is filled by only one species: Homo sapiens. Energy flow is disrupted as some individuals hoard money instead of releasing it to continue flowing to other niches. Nature is strict in its demand that energy flow.

Perhaps the worst aspect of money is that it has allowed us to assign arbitrary value to everything. "Precious" metals and stones are precious only because we say they are. There is a fine line between priceless and worthless. Arguably, they are two sides of the same coin. The lives of other species are priceless until we decide that the monetary value of the land they occupy can be increased by developing a shopping center....and we arbitrarily decided what the land was worth to begin with.

Money limits our creativity because we think only in terms of how we will benefit financially. We dismiss important endeavors before they get off the ground because [whining] "that's too costly," or "we can't make any money doing that." A cost-benefit analysis too often destroys potentially great achievements.

Money also actively encourages the invention of unnecessary products and services. The marketplace is full of disposable goods, mass-produced decorative objects, and all manner of substances passing themselves off as food and drink that are destructive to our individual and collective health. We are all children in the face of advertising, so easily convinced that we cannot live without a given item. Money fuels the conflict that filmmaker Ken Burns describes as the "I want versus we need."

Money allows us to judge one another not by the content of our character, but by the sum of our bank accounts, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Wealthism should be as repulsive as racism, but instead we collectively aspire to be financially excessive. More importantly, we want to exclude others from our sense of entitlement and privilege. We want a very tangible expression of our success, but ironically define success by tangible expression. We never arrive in this scenario. It is the treadmill of status, nothing more. It is a process that erodes society instead of elevating it.

We can no longer afford (and I use that word deliberately) to allow ourselves to be conditioned to believe that money is a limiting or freeing element of our society. What is priceless? Empathy. Respect. Honesty. Patience. Persistence. Volunteerism. Be examples of those things. Add to that list, because it will get you thinking about what is truly value-able. Meanwhile, I challenge you to imagine a world without money. What would it look like? Could we operate more justly and more efficiently without it?

No comments:

Post a Comment