By GUEST BLOGGER
A conversation with a friend prompted me to have a small epiphany while lying in bed one morning on what money actually is and what it means to me. The statement that prompted these thoughts was something along the lines of ‘well you do those things because you want money don’t you?’ and my reaction of horror that I had given that impression. Money plays a part in my actions but I don’t seek to have money for money’s sake. I want to do things that I love doing and if they transfer into money which allows me to do more of these things I love, such as travel or learning or having my own home or even buying my favourite brand of breakfast cereal, then I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that. I don’t want money for what it is but rather for what it can buy me – the original trade system with money as an intermediary step to allow more than just one-on-one trade. Along with this I don’t want to do things just because they will earn me money – i.e. taking a job that doesn’t give me any more value than a pay check. I want to do things because doing them makes me happy and if when I’ve completed them, they are found valuable to someone else and I can transfer them into money that allows me to continue doing more of the things I love, then that’s great.
This led me to think that money in its physical form is essentially a storage device – a storage device for energy, like talking about energy transfers in a school physics experiment. You put energy into creating something, this is sold and the energy shifts into money until it is changed into something else – whatever you buy with it. This allows energy exchanges so that a human’s energy of creation isn’t just used up and lost once they’ve finished making something (i.e. thrown away) but they can swap the product with another human’s creation to make balance, satisfaction and value. Therefore I don’t think that ‘productivity’ is bad either if you are creating something that you want – you put in a lot of energy creating something, you get a lot back out i.e. a home, travelling, paint supplies, whatever you enjoy and gives you pleasure.
Where this goes wrong is when people forget or abuse what that energy is. When greed comes into play either by not paying people enough for their work or taking more money than a thing’s true value, it does not respect or value the human being whose effort and energy is stored in those coins, and this is the point where things go wrong in a culture. The money itself is not the evil, but human beings’ lack of love for each other being shown by a willingness to steal the energy of other humans in the form of money. Being miserly is just as bad because there too the effort and energy of the human being has been forgotten and what is seen instead is just the coins, but these by themselves are worthless. They only have worth when the energy (money) is transferred into something of value to the buyer and therefore also giving value and respect to the creator/seller of the object. Trying to buy something as cheaply as possible is not giving full respect or value to the humans involved. The other victim of being a miser is the miser themselves – though why they are like this, hoarding people’s energy so that it loses its value or maybe not loving and respecting themselves if they are unwilling to spend the money to make themselves happy; I don’t know. I think that the reason behind why someone acts in a certain way towards money, whether greedily or miserly is something they have to discover for themselves and that it may differ from person to person.
Another characteristic you often see in individuals with respect to money is that they do not know their own worth, and undercharge for a service or product that is made of their talent, skill and time. I think that western culture’s understanding of money is now so confused and out of balance, where greed is normal and the true worth of money (a person’s energy) has been largely forgotten that people don’t know what to charge. Just as I think greed is a problem for the individual to recognise and sort out, so too is this understanding of the worth of money. If a person doesn’t charge enough for their product, they need to understand and address why they do not think of themselves with more value. I also think as human beings we have the ability to judge the worth of something accurately, for we often feel ‘ripped off’ by some prices and that we got a really good deal with others, but both of these feelings show an imbalance. Again, a price should be set and paid with respect and value of the individual human – whether you or the person selling the item.
There is one other big feature of western culture that really stands out to me as an act without love and that is the buying and ownership of land. There is this belief that nothing is free in life (‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’) yet I think there should be. I believe that life on this planet was supposed to be free and easy. Everything we need for life is provided by the planet naturally yet money and ownership stand between each of us and living easily in western culture. From the moment you are born you have to pay for the food you eat, the water you drink and the ground you walk on (or at least your parents do). You are effectively born in debt. Yet the person who originally decided that they owned the land did not create it, they simply declared it theirs (which I think can be traced back to William the Conqueror in England). In effect they stole it from the earth and then by selling it to another human (or demanding taxes for it) they stole their fellow human being’s effort and energy through money. Two counts of theft, two actions without love; a lack of love for their fellow human and for the earth (and the rest of her inhabitants). William the Conqueror created a huge imbalance when he conquered England and declared all the land his. This enormous act of greed is one that we as a western culture are still paying for today, and not just Great Britain but all cultural descendents of that time i.e. any country of capitalism. Because ultimately by taking the land away from other humans and making them pay for it, you are taking away the necessities for life – food, water and shelter that come with the land and so denying them the right to life. Taking and selling land condemns your fellow human beings to death (as seen in the many places where white men have displaced the native peoples) or it at least results in the gifts of life being constantly fought for (this we see daily in the men and women who struggle to earn money to make ends meet, and are not able to relax and enjoy life). I believe that this initial act of greed is the cornerstone of all the money unhappiness in western societies, this the greatest act without love against a fellow human being: to deny them their right to life, and this affects every human born into this society from their first breath.
What you do on the earth is another matter I think. If you put in the effort and grew excess vegetables and someone else who did not grow enough vegetables wanted to pay you for them, then a fair exchange of energy and respect could take place and the same can be applied to everything else that humans create. But every human should have the free right to life – the right to live on the land, the right to hunt/fish for themselves, to pick plant foods, for shelter, and the regulator for all these activities should be love. Love for the Earth and all her species that prevents abuse through greed seen from overfishing to slavery.
In conclusion, money itself is not evil as it can be portrayed. It is instead an expression of humanity itself – of humanity’s creative energy which is a very beautiful, marvellous thing. That same energy created great works of art and music, discovered scientific facts and drew a child’s first scribble. Money is the energy transfer device and that when used from a place of love, value and respect should be a thing that assists humans to achieve happiness easily and smoothly. What is actually wrong with our monetary system is inevitably the same thing that is wrong with every human system that isn’t working for the highest good of all; a lack of love. In the words of John Lennon:
“All You Need Is Love”