We have made a god of money.
Money is a symbol of the agreement (we somehow) reached, that a number attached to some sign ($, £, €) accurately denotes the value of a thing. It is a ‘natural’ idea to us now, something we accept unquestioningly, but imagine explaining to a !Kung bushman that his loin cloth is ‘worth’ $50 on the ‘open market.’ What is a dollar? How much is one worth? What does it mean to measure the value of a thing with a simple number attached symbol? Can you even explain it to yourself? What is the dollar value of your right hand, to you? To the market? To me?
We have made of god of money, and we are not allowed to question that god.
In Hindu religious art, the eyes of the gods are whited out. We mortals cannot look at them and live. Money is like that. It is like the smell of your nose, there always, intimately familiar, and yet totally indescribable. After we have penetrated money’s mists and seen the vacuum that lies beyond them, we are changed. The old person ‘dies,’ the new one sees the world in a very different light.
What is the value of a loin cloth? What is $50? What information in “loin cloth” cannot be contained by the information “$50”? How about the following guess at the value of a loin cloth:
O snug second scrotum,
o status of my manhood,
o evidence of:
my skill with a blade,
to track all day then kill clean,
to skin and cure, to share the meat,
to make from what I have what I need!
How could I ever want another’s!?
That’s 47 words. Have I just valued the loin cloth at W47? Stupid question. What if I had put it to music? Or painted an image of my loin cloth on a cave wall? Words, music and images work together. They cooperate, expand on, go beyond. There is grammar, context, rhythm, style, rhyme, tone, colour, culture, etc. But $50 is always and only $50.
Why is it that the consensus required to create money—this ‘somehow’ agreement reached as if by magic, that $1 is always and only $1—is so powerful? To my mind it is precisely by magic we have concocted equivalence from its absence elsewhere in nature. If you can, try to name two things that grow or emerge from Universe, even two apples or grains of sand, that are exactly identical. Even two protons proceed through a different trajectory, have different ‘destinies.’ No two Decembers are identical, no two experienced seconds, or smiles, holidays, Mondays ... nothing. Everything is unique and in a constant state of flux. Only measuring-units such as inches, miles, meters and money posses this quality of perfect equivalence.
Why then have we made a jealous god of money, but not of inches or ounces?
The more of us capable of answering that question, in depth, the better chance humanity has at making it through the coming challenges.
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