Who invented money? Ask any number of people and they couldn't tell you who it was that actually invented money or where the idea came from. History has given us some bad ideas, but money has to be the worst and here are my top three reasons why.
- Something Invented By Man Should Not Have Power Over Him. If I think really hard and try to imagine a time without money, before it was invented and used on a daily basis, I tend to imagine that the world was a completely different place. People most likely had a barter type society where goods and services were exchanged and that is how one survived. If I had a particular skill, say hunting, and you were hungry you could come to me for food. The idea would be that if you could make fire, and I could provide the food, then we could exchange our skills or abilities and everyone got what was good for them. I assume, for the sake of argument, that if someone possessed absolutely no skills whatsoever, that person was still allowed to eat. I can't imagine that I would loan the helpless soul some meat, only if it could be paid back somehow. Before helpless soul could blink, he might owe me for five dinners and then I have to send out the collection agents to call in his debts. Money provides control, in both a positive and negative control. Although it is man made, and essentially just a piece of paper or a mixture of cheap metals, money has power, and is power. I can just imagine Mr. Helpless Soul explaining to his wife that he can't repay the hunter and does not know what to do. So Mr. Hunter decides to enslave the Helpless Soul family until the debt is repaid. It is unfathomable to me that so many people in my country, and the world go hungry every day. Those who possess the money have the power to deny the needs of those that don't have means. Where have the humanitarians gone? I've seen a business owner kick out a person who was homeless and starving, and then half an hour later deal with a complaining customer as he shouted that his food was not hot enough. Money only has the power that we give it. If we choose to see it as just a means to an end, or just some silly paper we have been told to obey our whole lives, then one can focus on what really matters. I am not advocating not paying debts, or shucking responsibilities. This is the world we live in, and norms must be followed … until the laws change again to suit what the politicians want on any particular whim of a day.
- Money Shifts Focus From Helping One Another To Arbitrary "Worth" Of Mere Things. Why should I do anything to help anyone else, unless they can pay for it? If my entire focus in life is to obtain material things, then I should only be motivated by money, or obtaining it, to do anything. What is anything really worth? Marketing companies have defined worth for me since I was a child, and it was beaten into me during commercial breaks of GI Joe. What is the value of all of the things you want in comparison to something that really matters? Imagine what the worth is of spending one more hour with a loved one before they pass away and are gone forever. The worth of teaching your children that there is more to life than money and obtaining things. The worth of feeding a homeless man, and helping him have at least one night's sleep where his stomach doesn't keep him awake. The value of reaching out a hand and helping someone else in this world is worth more than the largest diamond, the heaviest gold, and the purest oil. Now, I am the biggest hypocrite on this topic, because I love things! It has been programmed in me for so long, it is hard to shake the desire to obtain things. Imagine a life in which people helped each other because it is the right thing to do, and not just for what they could get in return. The argument is, well, that things can't just be free. You have to pay something to get something. How would the world work if everyone was just giving away everything for free and everyone just had everything they needed and did not have to be slave to credit card companies anymore or to a job that they dislike? How would we survive? My answer to those questions is, famously! I would be free to learn a trade that benefits others and could use that ability to provide for my family and to help others. I have wanted to help by donating or giving my entire life, but never had the means. I've donated a little time here and there, and not near as much as I should or would have liked to, but at least it was something. But because I like things, and those things have cost me money, I have to continue in my job, and repeat the same cycle my father did.
- Money Makes You Question If People Really Care About You, Or Just Your Money. I try to envision the end of my life surrounded by those that have made my journey with me, who love and care for me because of the enrichment I gave to them through my friendship and dedication. In my last years, enjoying my days with my wife, and talking to my grown children and my grand children. I want to soak up every single minute of my life between here and there. I want to feel and love and enjoy all that there is to offer. I have seen families destroyed, fighting over the money left behind after a loved one passes. Some of those grudges are held for the rest of their lives. They lose a relationship and also a loved one, and the only thing they can think about, is how much money they will be getting. More than likely, Mr. Entitlement as we will call him, won't even miss the loved one that was lost. How many brilliant individuals never get the chance to succeed because of lack of means, and how many elite are given free passes because their pile of paper is bigger than yours. Do the people closest to you care about you or your money? Does the girlfriend only love you because of what you can buy her? Do your children only listen to you in order to get something they want? Take the money away, and would they abandon you? Such a great idea, this money.
My answer to all of this is that I don't have an answer. My two year old daughter asked me about money and loves putting money in her piggy bank. It made me start to consider all the reasons I worry about money, and fight about money, and read books about money. Nothing like the honesty of a child, to make you sit and think.