It’s heartbreaking how money has torn us apart. I recently had a party with my closest friends and this event was quite difficult to put together because almost everybody was busy with spending weeks in overtime trying to earn extra or in hospital duty gaining experience for future employment. And at the party, work was such an inescapable topic of conversation, you know, the usual discussion of frustration about customers, bosses, salaries and bills. Don’t get me wrong, we had a lot of fun and enjoyed the party as much as we can. But it’s just sad that this, enjoying the company of friends, had to be so hard to make possible. I can’t even remember the last time we were almost complete in a gathering like this. All because we can’t make schedules meet due to the priority of work and money.
It is apparent that society has evolved into this money-making machine, constantly moving to keep the money coming and going. Our lives are indoctrinated with the norm that money be a priority in everything we do because we just can’t do without it. If we want to live a civilized life with proper food, shelter and enough basic necessities in order to survive, we have to have money. We could detach ourselves and live in the wilderness without money to sustain us, but if we still want to stay in touch with friends and society in general, it just seems impractical.
We have become slaves of the almighty money, growing up to believe that it is something of great value. It isn’t. Money is just a means of exchange, a way to distribute resources – a distribution that must necessarily be fair and equitable for all.
In the beginning no one owned anything. The land, its fruits, the minerals, water, everything is for everybody to share. And labor is the only thing that the people had a sense of ownership of. But because majority of our wealth is now “owned” by a few powerful individuals, we are constrained to give what we do have, our labor, just so we can have a bit of the wealth they hold hoard. Since money is concentrated in and controlled by the hands of these few, it has become a means to stratify the population and create class warfare.
Today’s society has inequality and injustice as the very foundation of its system. We, the working class and the poor who are the majority of society, spend most of our lives striving to earn money in order to survive. All our distressing effort, frequent overtimes, sickness from fatigue, loneliness from being away from families and unhappiness from the routine work – which is really not what we want to do in life but are forced to do because it pays the bills – are all for the bidding of the minority on top.
And worse is that these big shots have us believing that there’s no way around this inequality, that this is just the way life is. And if we want to prosper like them, we must sacrifice everything we have and be as ruthless as them while climbing the ladder, not minding the lives we trample on. And when we do get to the top, we’ll be as soulless as these profit-making giants.
But what can we do to break out of this unjust monetary system? I do not have the answer to how or if we can do this, yet. Right now, we are very much tied to it whether we like it or not. What we do have the power over are our own perceptions and decisions. We could try to open our minds and see that money does not have value in itself. Its worth lies in its use; it is just a means to an end. We can try to not worship money or material things so much, and instead find real value in our relationships with other people and with the earth. We can stop seeing money-making as our reason for living, and instead turn our priorities to loving and sharing – genuine happiness. We can change the system by starting with the change in ourselves.