Thursday, August 14, 2014

The green poison

The man who lives without money

A friend of mine shared this link on his Facebook wall.
I almost skipped reading the article because of its idealistic nature, but i think highly of the said friend's opinion is why i thought i might as well give it a glance, if nothing else, it definitely will be an interesting read. I urge you to give it a go.
It is about a man, who for the past 15 months, has been living without money.
He lives off nature, grows what he needs, builds what he requires, cycles everywhere, barters and reuses waste.
His thinking is very clear -

 "And that’s the thing I don’t get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase."

But could you do it?

Is this really sustainable? What happens when he needs medical assistance?
I am not trying to downplay his initiative, don't get me wrong, I am just trying to understand how this works.
In asking all these questions, i realize this is how we have been trained, brainwashed even - you study, right from the time you are a toddler you are put into a straight jacket - finish education, get a job, work, make money, provide for your family, reproduce, make sure the children are educated, make money and take care of you. And within this framework you find your happiness.
And now how can we think of a different outlook, where money does not occupy the center stage?

So is it not really money, but the lack of it that causes all problems? Or is the problem that we measure our happiness against the index of money?
Does money really guarantee happiness? And if it doesn't, then how can making money be the most important thing for us? This is all so confusing, so basically we are striving to achieve something all our lives, the presence of which we are not sure if it gives us happiness or not. So at the end of it we may discover that the striving for money counted for nothing, or possibly everything!

I think it is not a question of national debate or international discussion, but very individualistic.
We need to ask ourselves and be honest - Do i need money to be happy? Forget the need to sound politically right, at the core of it - will i be happy if i have more money than less money? Right off the bat, the answer seems simple enough - Yes. Give me money and i will be happy. But to earn that money, you sacrifice your creativity, your family life, your mental peace and you invite stress, uncertainty  and a lethal routine to your life. Where is the happiness in that?
So i would truly be happy if i had money, but i didn't have to give up my soul earning it.

It is very misleading to say - now imagine a world where money does not exist, no we cannot imagine it and it cannot work. The whole idea of shifting from barter to money to huge banking and financial institution was termed as "progress". With the financial collapse and scams it looks like a double edged sword, but it is progress nonetheless.
And so now the problem is evident, this question cannot be answered without taking into consideration the national, global obsession with money. We have built structures and institutions around this concept. Functioning in the normal world without money is next to impossible, unless you take extreme measure like Mark Boyle. To get anything in this world requires money. Hence, the answer is - yes, i need money to be happy.
But imagine a world where emphasis is on community, sharing, bartering rather than making money. But is there not a reason communism failed?
So if capitalism is the answer, why are there so many depressions, suicides and attacks?
So what is the answer?
I cannot answer for anyone else but myself - Yes, i need money to survive and be happy. My money lets me buy books, bags, good food, clothes and shoes - and these are things that make me happy - in that order. That may be materialistic, but wanting materialistic things does not mean not wanting family, love and care. It just means that these things are not based on money (hopefully!) and so I am taking them for granted for now.
I also understand that in order to earn this money, so i can get happiness from it, sometimes i need to sacrifice my family time, invite stress and chaos. These are what represent the negatives for earning money for me.
The trick in my head is to balance all these aspects, meaning - understanding and accepting that family and social values are important for my happiness and making them a priority, knowing that money is going to give me materialistic happiness, so taking steps to earn it, understanding that earning money with its associated negatives, at the cost of the real positives, is not going to tip the happiness scale in my favor, so balancing it.
Sounds incredibly difficult on paper, but that is what we are doing every second of every day and with practice we may become perfect, but maybe we won't. But at least, we are doing what we think brings us happiness.

Like i mentioned earlier, this is extremely individualistic in the context of the current scenario, where money make the world go round. There may be people who shun money and do not think it will make them happy, good for them, or people who say earning money even at the cost of family is happiness for them, again, no judgement here. It is all extremely individualistic, as long as you are aware of what makes you happy.

So if quitting the job you hate for the job you love is happiness, go for it. But if staying in the hateful high paying job but thoroughly enjoying the money and handling the stress is something you have figured out, go for it, i say. Define your own goals, make your own strategies, for only you know what makes you happy!

PS: I understand this article is utterly confusing and it perfectly represents my state of mind right now.
It was a very spontaneous decision to write this blog after reading that article, but now i feel i must revisit this topic, after some thought, some reading, some understanding.
My questions are my starting point.

1 comment:

  1. I feel it the question is not whether money is required or not. The question is do we know where to stop?