Is money evil, should we stay clear of it, and find ways without it?

I don´t mind Money. In fact, I quite like it. Having to trade an egg for an apple, for a spoon, for a candle, when I wanted that candle to begin with sounds very tiring to me. There is much harm that has been done by the use of money, but just as much good. I don´t think money is bad, there is no reason why people shouldn´t want it, shouldn´t try to get it for example through work. But it might be wise to pause from time to time and remember what it really is, a symbol of worth and by extension, a symbol for eggs and candles. Let´s wonder every now and then if we are making too much of it.

One reason, I think, why money is important to us is that it gives us a sense of control. If we have enough of it we can fulfil our basic needs like food and shelter, we can feel safe from nature, and animals and buy comfort. And it is true, money can balance certain probabilities in our favour for a while but it doesn´t give us control, that is an illusion. We can´t buy control over our health, we can´t buy control over our relationships and certainly not over our happiness. The richest people are not the ones with the lowest rate of divorces, the richest countries in the world are not also the happiest. While the statistics on health show that poor people do have more physical illnesses (what is not surprising when you trade your body for hard work, it has its consequences), I still wonder what kind of health definition this data is referring to. According to the WHO health is „complete physical, mental and social well-being“. My experiences made while encountering people that are hustling and bustling to make more money are not necessary that they are mentally or socially better off than others. A new statistic that focuses on mental and social well-being might not let rich people’s life look so much healthier. The thing is, the hustling and bustling can never stop, only based on the outside conditions, never consciously putting a limit to it, one will always have to acquire more money because it always flows out as it goes in. Everything we buy needs care/service, needs mending, calls forth new needs like new equipment, extensions etc.

On the other hand, I remember a lot of beautiful gifts and experiences bought with money that made me and others very happy. What I would suggest is not to hate money but to find a new balance, a new view on money and on working for money. Every living thing should try to stay alive. But physiological needs, safety needs and social needs are not the only needs that we have. Shown for example in the hierarchy of needs by Maslow does first three have to be met before a person can strive toward self-esteem and then self-actualization. But what are these categories filled with? Yes, there is a minimum of resources we need and those are mostly acquired using money and work in our time, but looking at our western societies, I wonder, if all the things that are culturally considered basic needs are really necessary for us or even really helpful for our well-being.

We could try to make as much money as we need but also reflect openly on which things truly deserve this assessment and which don´t. If we feel our basic needs are met we might also start focusing on figuring out how we want to contribute to our societies in ways that are fulfilling for us, as much as useful to them. But to do that, we will have to face our fears of losing control. Facing those fears might involve facing our fears around suffering, pain and even death since work and money are, at least in our minds, so closely connected to our basic needs. It makes sense to stay alive. Everything alive should try to stay alive but what means being alive to us individually?

What I would like people to do is to become conscious of their fears, as much as possible and in their time. I want us to stop running around like headless chickens following every empty promise to save us, to give us control. I want us to start facing this life, this persona that we are right now, as the valuable thing that it is. A thing that we will most certainly lose sooner or later. Let´s start making conscious decisions on how we want to live this life. May that be with or without (much) money. Whatever work that might include, whatever we want to achieve through it or aside from it in life. No, we will never be in full control. But we should still know what we want and try to go for it. 

Besides facing our fears and gaining clarity we might also have to learn to forgive ourselves for every mistake so far, especially if our reflections on how we want to live reveal that we have been running in the wrong direction for quite a while. Maybe we ought to develop more humour towards how things are and how they have been or could be. The thing is, even if life is more of a fight than a dance or game (what I consider to be arguable) then there is still the choice of being dragged into an arena to fight or walk into it head high left for us. I don´t know about you but I would prefer the latter.

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