.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Putting Money in Its Place

One thing that stands out for me as I think about the world of my childhood and our world today is the role of money.  While it is necessary to have enough money to purchase food, shelter and security, it seems that money is now the standard for everything:  success, smart decision-making, wisdom, achievement.  Business schools teach students to focus on maximizing profits, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.  Consumers focus on paying the lowest price, period.  We even measure our nation’s health by GDP, which is merely the sum of all legal monetary transactions, whether or not those transactions were good or bad for the environment or public health and safety.  In fact, we are made to feel like stooges or idiots if we don’t sell high, buy low, and invest for maximum return.  And how about those corporate salaries?  I once asked an executive, “Why do these keep going up?  You can’t possibly spend $50 million a year.  What’s the point?”  He replied, “That’s how big boys keep score.”  So how much you earn is now the measure of your worth?  Heaven help us!

            Many people are jumping off this merry-go-round-to-nowhere.  A movement known as Voluntary Simplicity is quietly spreading, as people realize they can lead more fulfilling and satisfying lives with less money and fewer possessions.  Research has repeatedly shown that beyond the point where basic needs are met, there is no correlation between income level and subjective reports of happiness.  A book titled Richistan explores the different world of multimillionaires, and after reading it, I sure wouldn’t trade places with them.  Their lives are full of stress and conflict, and many felt they would be financially secure if they just had more money!  If that doesn’t prove that money doesn’t equal security, I don’t know what would.

            Money is necessary; it is the way we exchange our labor and talents with each other to get what we need.  But it’s meaningless apart from that exchange.  I am reminded of the Bible verse, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  When we focus on the money itself, rather than the exchanges it represents, our values get skewed and we believe that those little green pieces of paper will protect us.  What really gives us security is a network of family, friends and neighbors that we can count on to help us, as we help them.