The Value of Money in Human Life
“Man has sought to understand the essence of money for many centuries” (Sheptun). The main reason of it lies in the fact that money plays a very important role in human life. Money determines a person’s status, his/her position in society as well as his/her success. Sometimes, it seems that the whole world is turning around money. Money influences all spheres of human life. One can always hear about money from his/her parents, relatives and friends as well as on television and radio, where the problems associated with money are actively discussed. Moreover, money affects the process of development of a person, his/her character, behavior, actions and way of life. Money determines the relationships between people. Since ancient times, many philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, gave their assessment of money. “Plato did not believe in money because he understood its power to corrupt”, thinking that “a society would be happier without it” (Okpala 53).
Aristotle’s attitude regarding money was calmer, but still in politics, he insisted that people should struggle with money lust, which can ruin a person’s fate. Thus, the theme of money has always been relevant in human professional and personal lives. Most people view money as a force that gives them a certain power over others, allowing them to control others, and thus, providing a significant private advantage. It seems that one cannot live without money, but is it truth? Why the view that it is possible to live without money is always denied and is not recognized by most of people? In my opinion, life without money is quite possible, though it requires a certain amount of human efforts. Moreover, one should not forget that the desire to limit the use of money can help to solve many problems in relations between people. Different stories can ensure that often money is the cause of many serious conflicts, including family. The current paper analyzes such statements as “We cannot live without money”, “Money is one form of wealth” and “Money affects our relationships with others in good and bad ways”.
To begin, many people believe that it is impossible to live without money. They argue this statement by the fact that everything that they eat and use is bought with money. Indeed, money has an economic aspect of the use, giving people an opportunity to purchase various items and food. Without money, one cannot imagine his/her life full of different things that are to create comfort and convenience. However, let us reflect on the fact what causes constant attachment to money. In the people who have average income, money causes constant troubles related to obtaining wages on time, while in others who are very rich people, it is the main reason of thinking only about the methods of making more cash. Such people are constantly craving for profit and use various ways for it, even dishonest. Thus, one cannot imagine life without money, but with them, it turns into slavery.
People claim that it is impossible to live without money, but the presence of money is associated not only with purchasing of what is sufficient for human life. The presence of money is connected with the idea of wealth. All thoughts, actions and deeds of such people are controlled by a single desire - to make money. The problem here is that people cannot imagine their lives not because they will die without them, but because it is an opportunity for them to become rich and/or famous. Often money is not only a means by which people buy different things since money turns into greed. People tend to have much more money than the amount that is sufficient for their normal existence. People become the slaves of money, which begins to manage their entire lives. Receiving money is associated with the desire to become rich. This is one of the main reasons why people believe that life is impossible without money.
In fact, it is not that it is impossible to live without money. People simply do not want to live without money. Moreover, they want to have more and more money day after day, because they connect money with happiness. Given that everyone wants to be happy, all people strive to have as much money as possible. It is rather hard to find anyone who would agree with Benjamin Franklin, who once said that “money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants” (“Money Quotes”).
Nevertheless, there are few people who realize or at least want to realize how far their dependence on money has gone. For example, 29-year-old Rafael Fellmer and his family have an extremely frugal lifestyle. They manage to live and feel great without spending a dime. They find food in supermarket dumpsters and “pay” their utility bills by performing various chores. In general, the family of Rafael Fellmer avoids using money almost completely. If they need something serious, they arrange for barter transactions. Rafael Fellmer was born in a decent family of a successful architect. He received a normal European education, so he could find a great job, but he chose a different path.
Several years ago, he realized that in this world, there are things far more important than making money. He gradually began to reduce their costs by using things that did not require to be paid. Economic crisis, the lack of food and clean water in the world inspired Raphael Fellmer to choose a moneyless way of living. While many people decry Raphael, considering him as a slacker and saying that he forces his family to eat from garbage dumps, there are those who share his outlook on life and respect his philosophy. This case is not isolated, because in different parts of the world, one can meet people who seek to live without money, arguing that it is quite possible. In particular, “Irishman Mark Boyle … finds life with no financial income, bank balance, and no spending” (Froelich). Mark Boyle decided to stop using money to understand what is life without monetary dependence. He eventually came to the conclusion that it is rather possible to live without money, though it takes more time to perform various chores such as washing, cleaning, etc. Moreover, he understood that “where money once provided me with my primary sense of security, I now find it in friends and the local community. Some of my closest mates are people I only met because I had to build real relationships with others based on trust and kindness, not money” (Boyle). It should be said that the question of how money affects relationships between people is particularly important, because the influence can be both positive and negative. A negative impact has different forms. Among them, one can call distrust, detachment between people and even extreme variants of hatred and enmity, which can lead to death.
The attitude towards money is gradually formed in childhood. A child learns about money in 4-6 years, while the basic idea of money might be seen in 12 years. Economic socialization received in a family has a strong influence on children’s behavior in relation to his/her parents and peers. Becoming adults, they project a similar behavior to their husbands, wives, children, etc. Based on my observations obtained from various sources (personal contacts with people, watching all kinds of movies, reading books, etc.), I can name a few money types of personality:
- Miser. The accumulation of money is attractive in itself;
- Spender. He/she spends money, since money is a symbol of protection and security, though it’s effect is temporal;
- Money bag. A person is “seized” by money;
- Huckster. A person receives pleasure by buying cheap goods;
- Player. Money is a symbol of freedom;
- Collector. Money represents value as a piece of art;
- Parasite. A person is ready to live on handouts;
- Counterfeiter. A person has tendency for gain by deception.
The given money types of personality provide an opportunity to understand the cause of many conflicts and disputes between people, particularly, in family relations. Let us remember the plot of the film The Devil’s Advocate (1997). The main hero Kevin Lomax, which is performed by Keanu Reeves, has been practicing law successfully since he always wins court cases. Once he receives an invitation to work for a large corporation in New York. He and his wife move to New York. There, his life changes dramatically and Kevin understands why he was invited to work in the corporation. The desire to become richer and more successful results in the risk of losing his wife who understands what they are dealing with. The conflicts between them demonstrate Kevin’s willingness to become rich and his wife’s desire to have the former quiet life devoid of the need to lie, cheat and act dishonestly. Before the understanding of the real matter, Kevin can be called “money bag”, because he was obsessed with lust for money and wealth. However, this desire almost caused the death of his wife. Another film American Hustle (2013) is also a good example on how pursuit of money can negatively influence the relations between loving people.
It is believed that money and happiness are connected in relationships between people in particular in a marriage. However, wealth may destroy a family, if money becomes a litmus of feelings in a relationship. Persuaded that money is happiness, spouses may conflict with each other about the lack of money in a family, or the fact that a wife is not helping her husband in earning money, etc. Certainly, money can benefit people, because when used properly, money can give a lot of opportunities. However, often, the issue of money is a cornerstone in a relationship between a husband and a wife, parents and children, friends, etc.
Money can have a positive meaning to a person. First, they provide an opportunity to eat well and live in good conditions. With their help, one can receive a good education, travel, communication with people, etc. In addition, as noted by Georg Simmel, a representative of the philosophy of money, a positive value of money lies in the fact that they contribute to the development of human intelligence. Indeed, almost every day, one can hear about the invention of a new model of smartphone or other commercially profitable product. In the relations between people, money also can have a positive impact, sealing them with various joys and pleasures that they can bring: a purchase of valuable things, common recreation, entertainment, etc. At the same time, the feature of money is that if misused money might become a destroyer of all that a man creates.
The desire for money, which is very common, makes people slaves of money. Simmel states that “the inner polarity of the essence of money lies in its being the absolute means and thereby becoming psychologically the absolute purpose for most people, which makes it, in a strange way, a symbol in which the major regulators of practical life are frozen” (232). In turn, it affects the relationships between people. By and large, the negative impact of money on human life is primarily manifested in the relationship between people. Money conflicts may have different forms of expression. It may be a conflict regarding inheritance, property rights on anything with a view to resale, etc.
To sum up, it is possible to live without money. It requires learning to control a desire which is peculiar to humans, namely a desire to possess money. People’s desire to have money is understandable, because it provides a sense of security and freedom. However, in fact, it is rather slavery than freedom. This slavery does not always play a positive role in human relations. Often, money is the cause of strife and discord between people. Therefore, it is not about to completely abandon the money, since it is about to rethink one’s life and realize that money is not happiness. Happiness cannot be bought with money. Money should be regarded as a means, but not as a goal. Unfortunately, most people take money primarily as a goal. The significance of money in human life is enormous, and with it, no one teaches people how to manage and treat money. A person has come to the realization that money cannot and should not be the goal of his/her life. Given that to living without money is possible, each person can try to find more freedom by struggling with his/her desire to have more and more money.