When The Beatles released their 6th British single ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ in 1964, the lyrics encompassed the very essence of the 60s. Followed by ‘All You Need Is Love’ in 1967, the idea of being able to achieve happiness solely through love was, and still is, one adopted by millions all over the World. It is an ideal that I would love to be able to believe in…were I to live in the magical land of pixies and elves.
I’m not sure that The Beatles ever had to ‘care too much for money’, but currently finding myself with a bit of time to think about life, love and the Universe, I have started asking myself some rather profound questions. ‘What do I really want and what of that do I want solely because it is part of my upbringing in Western civilisation?’ ‘Are the things we deem important such as security, money, power etc, only as important as we allow them to be?’
When I went travelling in 2012, I met and saw a lot of different types of people and the way in which they lived. To many of the natives living in poverty, money was a matter of life and death. Those who lived comfortably in their bamboo houses drinking water from the mountain and eating food from their own land, money was merely an exchange for a small number of items they couldn’t produce themselves.
Money is only worth what you can convert it into.
If it’s food and water, then it becomes the most important thing in the World. To you and me, our friends and family, and most people in Western society, we earn money to sustain a certain standard of living, things that we deem essential (mobile phones, sky tv). Things that in reality aren’t.
But I feel like my whole life has been about educating myself solely for the purpose of making as much money as I can.
Growing up, due to unforeseen circumstances including theft, illness and redundancy, there were times where my family felt the strains of having to do without. At best it can lead to an enormous amount of stress. At worse it can tear a family apart and even lead to mental illness. Seeing how a lack of money resulted in making my family life so much more difficult for my mum, made me want to search for a life in which money wasn’t so important.
While the happiest moments of my life have never involved financial gain, I also remember the stress and anxiety of living pay cheque to pay cheque.
They say children need love above all else in the world. But that’s not really true is it? Love, affection, emotional stability and support, those are a luxuries we are able to sustain when not plagued by poverty. What children need is clothes, food, water, and a roof over their heads, anything on top of that is a huge advantage.
The question of how important money really is, depends entirely on your definition of living. Is it is essential to live without famine, starvation and dehydration. Everything else is a luxury.
I cannot imagine my life without one day having children. But for them to have the kind of life that I want for them, money is a factor I cannot ignore. I don’t want to be a millionaire, but I want my children to be able to play outside in a big garden instead of inside on a computer all day. I want to be able to take them away for weekends. I want to let them indulge in their passions and allow them to get an education that means they can do whatever they want later on in their lives. I want all this for them, and I don’t want to worry about whether or not I can afford it.
And therein I have found a conflict within myself. I know I have always had a distaste for money; the things it makes people do, our reliance on it, the way it divides people into thinking they are better if they have more of it. Yet I understand the necessity of it.
The best I can do then, is to try and earn a living in an honest way. A way that not only enables me to provide for a family sufficiently, but also in a way that aligns with my moral compass. A way that means something and makes a positive impact on the World. The Holy Grail of Modern Life.