I like to think we’ve grown into a society where money and materialistic goods are regarded as only secondary to non-materialistic goods: love, friendship, contentedness, peace, etc. But the older I get and the more I elbow myself into the so-called “real world,” the more I realize this is merely childhood idealism.
Money is the fossil fuel the car of the world runs on, stinking up the atmosphere, pushing out and polluting everything else.
Money even determines the worth of a person. People my age still have parents who expect the significant other of their children to have a house, money, car, etc. Nevermind things like compassion, good listening skills––hell, a sense of humour. Young people are pressured to pursue occupations they have no passion for, strictly for the money.
And my question is: why? Why do we attach this sacredness to money?
Money doesn’t necessarily make you happier or live a longer life. Of course, money does help those things. If by affording business class plane ticket makes you happier, money is making you happier. If money gets you the best possible medical treatment, you may live longer. But it’s not the determinant and it’s not absolutely necessary. A business class plane ticket is useless to your happiness if the food they serve on the plane is gruesome. Expensive medical treatment may not be necessary if you’d eaten healthy and exercised throughout your life.
Of course, we can’t live on no money. We have necessities that can only be bought with money: food, shelter, clothing, etc. Perhaps it’s because I never grew up in an environment where these things were out of reach, that I am able to dismiss money. Still, I’d rather have a job doing work I enjoy but pays less than a job I hate that pays millions. If someone offered me the CEO position of a mega-company that pays six digits annually, I’d turn it down in a heartbeat.
When I think about why human beings worship money, I think of this Bible verse:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
– Matthew 6: 19-21
Perhaps it is because of our increasingly secular society that we are concerned with money. Since we believe this life is all we’ll ever have, we’re obsessed with amassing as many short-term tools of happiness as we can. The only way we can anchor happiness in this physical, materialistic world is to buy physical, material things we can enjoy.
So perhaps we do need money to buy happiness, or at least some form of it. I just hope people don’t forget that there are countless, numerous, priceless things that deliver as much, if not more, happiness than things that have to be bought with money. These are the some of the priceless things that make me happy:
- Waking up and realizing you can sleep in.
- Walking down the beach with the water around my ankles.
- Playing with animals you meet on the street.
- Seeing an eagle.
- When you’re running and you get to the point where your body’s adapted and your breathing is no longer laboured.
- That first gulp of water after the run, when you really, really need it.
- Having an in-depth conversation with friends and getting to know everyone’s commonalities, emerging from the conversation as better friends.
- Finding out that you just made a friend.
- Finding out that you just made a lover.
- Writing. (Provided you have a few bucks to afford writing utensils!)