Some people believe money equals freedom. The logic goes that because I have money, I don’t need to build relationships with people to get what I want. I can just buy it. If I don’t have the money to buy what I want, I can just work to earn it, or not work and not get it. Either way, I’m free to choose.
Better stated, from a comment on Reddit that prompted a spirited sharing:
… I’d be a little wary of following any ideology that threatened my sovereignty with a centralised system I had no control over [such as Copiosis]. I’d rather have the money. This is true freedom, not somebody else’s notion of morality, or positivity to the planet. That’s bullshit. Nobody could create a system that rewarded positive acts. Most positive acts are done discretely by people being ordinary people. . . . Taking away money would not allow individuals to express their freedom, because they wouldn’t have any. If I’m poor, I can choose to miss a few meals and buy a guitar if I want. That’s freedom.
I’m sure there are many who agree with this.
Is money really equal to freedom? Is it true that with money you and I don’t have to rely on others to produce what we need?
How about love, belonging, friendship, nurturing, understanding, camaraderie, and other things that come with community? Can those things be bought with money? If you think they can, ask super-rich people about how often they suspect those close to them. Money can buy a simulation of community, not the real McCoy.
What money can’t buy
We rely on the generosity of others to create things we benefit from over time, things we cannot possibly ever repay with money no matter how much we had, mostly because the people who provided them are long gone.
I’m talking about generations upon generations of people responsible for the civilization, the culture, the goods and services that came from their intelligence, their creativity. These things you and I cannot ever repay, though we benefit from them daily.
Take the electricity you depend on to heat your home or power your gadgets. Yeah, you pay for electrons that heat your bedroom or charge your smart phone. But what you pay doesn’t acknowledge the millions of people who are no longer living, without whose effort it would not be possible for you to heat your home or juice your phone.
How about the billions of people of evolving human civilization, people who enabled you to read this? How about the inventors, manufacturers, distributors, sales people; others who fought wars that advanced humanity, others who clothed and fed their fellow men and women; others who governed civilizations creating relative peace where such advances could be realized, including advances you’ve enjoyed since birth.
The continuity goes on and on. So does our debt of gratitude to every person born and gone. It’s trite but true: man is not an island unto himself.
How much did you pay for the sun today?
I can’t even begin to tabulate how much each of us owes the Universe, the sun, the earth … every natural thing in the natural world from which we benefit. These things have supported all of us always, a boggling bounty you benefit from every millisecond of your life. There’s no amount of money you could pay for these.
Thinking about this, it becomes clear to me—awe-inspiring, even—how blessed you and I are to benefit from not only so many people who have come before us, but so many natural processes that make living possible. All this we get without paying a dime.
Early civilizations figured this out and were awed. “Who are we to benefit from such bounty?” those early peoples asked. Rather than arguing for false premises, perhaps we should ask more questions.
What are your feelings about money? Are freedom and money equal in your mind? Do you agree the universe provides far more than you could, as an individual, ever repay? If so, then what?
I’d love to hear your feedback.