Saturday, June 21, 2014
Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money?
“The greatest crimes are caused by excess and not by necessity” (Aristotle 7). “It’s not actual poverty...but inner poverty--a condition of emotional, spiritual, creative, and social impoverishment” that drives people toward money (Boundy 19).
In this society the main intention is to acquire the most possible money, causing people to be tricked into believing that they possess power. Respect or being well-liked is left lurking in the shadows, because the main intention is to come out ahead. How can power be achieved? This can be achieved in many ways, but here are a few: working longer hours, suing an individual, or impressing someone. This society is obsessed with greed; however, there is nothing wrong with striving to be wealthy. Boundy says that “anyone who is in search of acquiring a good living is dreaming of becoming wealthy not greedy” (267). The stock market is a prime example, drawing crowds from everywhere, and since everyone that invests in this is looking for greed or wealth, there is a certain amount of power when these people invest. Usually they have extra money to blow anyway, unless, of course, they are compulsive gamblers. Investing and gambling raises ones’ self-esteem, because one is making money leading toward the ultimate goal--more money. The addiction to greed creates people that are emotionally cold, because the only relationship that can be formed is to greed. Their primary focus is to acquire more instead of enjoying life, causing their life to become narrow, restricted and impoverished (267). However, the person who strives for wealth uses money to enhance, enlighten, and to give more experiences to those who do not abuse it.
Originally, bartering was the only means of exchange, and this worked until people began to question the standards of what the value of something was. These people were not able to take into account the time and skill needed to produce the good. As time progressed, labor became the main factor, and then it became difficult to determine how many x’s are worth how many y’s. Then around 1150 B.C. the Chinese used tool shapes as a medium of exchange. This was a step forward taking labor in to account. Now a determined price could be set. The emotional impact of these is apparent in the time it would take to make these tools; the tools were used for practical purposes as well.
Where has the value for the unit of labor gone today?
As with everything, time enhances or time destructs anything in its path and our value for labor has been destructed. Police officers and professors are payed a small salary, while lawyers and doctors are payed the extreme. Police officers hold the streets together, causing peace and harmony within the community. They also risk their own safety to help others. Professors teach the young so that they can grow up to be the lawyers, doctors, and police officers. All four positions help others out, but some to a lesser degree than others. Doctors earn the money that they receive, because they have the power to diagnosis and heal people when they are ill. Doctors, however, are not born doctors. They must learn from somewhere. The professors must feed the knowledge to the doctors; nevertheless, the human life expectancy will fall. Now society has abstracted away from what the original concept of this medium of exchange was intended for.
It is said a fool is born separated from his money, and the same is said true for artists.
Some people have a hard time using money for any purposes. An example is artists. Artists have difficulty selling their works, whether painter or poet. Usually what money they do acquire is spent on alcohol and/or drugs to numb their emotional pain. Major depression is one problem that usually inflicts them, which can cause a variety of symptoms from apathy, lethargy, hopelessness, sleep disturbances, and loss of pleasure in enjoyable events (Jamison, 63). Some artists are plagued with manic depression, which is usually genetic, causing patients to switch from depressed to hyperactive and euphoric states.
What would happen if our society was depressed all the time?
Everyone has ups and downs, but sometimes money causes people to become depressed. If the rent cannot be payed for, the negative outcomes associated with not paying the rent with surface within the mind. Once one dwells on these negative thoughts, they will be soon bound to be translate into reality.
Emotions like these are what transforms artists to express themselves. Vincent Van Gogh was an artist that lived in the late 1800’s, and he was believed to have epilepsy and manic depression. Theo, his younger brother, sent him enough francs to live on for roughly a month, since Vincent could not make it on his own trying to sell his art. His works use a heavy laired impasto with extraordinarily bright colors to express his emotions. In his Sunflower series, Vincent ran out of paint, and he was not able to eat as comfortably as the month before. This allowed him to afford paint and finish off the series.
His paintings acted as a therapy for him to unleash his extreme emotions, because he drove his friends away. This left him in a state of solitary, not counting the letters to Theo. His mental illness wrecked havoc on his life, but his symbol of hope shines through in his paintings with the extreme use of white and frequency of the sun in them. Now a century later on 30 March 1987 for the price of $36,292,500 Sunflowers was sold at an auction in London. Bonafoux sums it up as “Vincent did not have enough money to pay for the paints that, a 100 years later, would make his painting the largest transaction to take place in the art world” (158). Loneliness and despair is what killed him, not the bullet that entered below his heart.
Still think money will buy happiness?
Arbeiter and Schott say “the basic elements that create happiness--love, self-esteem, fulfillment through work, and close relationships--can be nurtured by money, but they do not stem from it. For the true ‘fortunes’ in our lives, we need to look elsewhere”. The original concept of money was to assign a worth value for an item that was needed to survive, not emotions. People obsessed with money have absolutely no control over themselves, and believe that they need to keep spending to stay alive. Compulsive spenders are driven to get the item they desire with no regard for the consequences. This type of spender often does this to fulfill a fantasy that burns within the depths of their mind. This type of fantasy is usually related to raising their stature. By spending erratically, it gets them the items that they can show off. They have to be noticed by the elite, and they will try to fit in no matter what the cost. “The image spender defines himself by his lifestyle” (Boundy 122). They try for something that they cannot have by buying, but once they get it, the process repeats itself. One goal that people of this nature have is trying to become an interesting person through the items purchased. In essence, these people are trying to fulfill their “inner poverty” by buying something, never becoming fully satisfied.
Nowadays, money is transforming into plastic cards; this can be a headache for anyone that has a problem with not seeing the money being transacted. Compulsive debtors use it as a small loan to keep buying and paying only the minimum due, maxing the card out, and spending over their income (Boundy 153). These loans encourage this compulsive spending, and the credit card company companies receive their fair share with interest. The same holds true with debtors and spenders, who attempt to be noticed, attempting to fill their emotional void by purchasing. To these people the future means nothing, and life is lived from one minute to the next.
Hoarding money is just as much of a problem as being obsessed, because these type of people sacrifice their lives to keep on top a large sum of money. Hoarders have all their bills payed on time, are never in debt, and never run up a credit card (213). Extreme savers often face the dilemma that someday they will spend their money on a vacation, car, or retirement. Yet they neglect to enhance or enlighten their present lives rather than their future. “It is if they believe that money is their lifeblood and that with each expenditure, they lose a little of themselves, a little vitality, a little power” (214 Boundy). It originates from the individual going through extremely tough times, and they do not want to go back into financial poverty. They sacrifice their own well-being at the present time so that in the future that they will not have to endure the physical and emotional pain involved with going through those extremely tough times. “The person who unnecessarily hoards money for a rainy day at the age of thirty is usually still waiting for the rainy day at seventy, only the hoarding is done more rigidly” (221).
Money provides us with the physiological needs that Abraham Maslow described in his hierarchy of needs. Safety and belonging needs are the two deficiency needs that will not be met because of a lack of attention. These needs begin when a child is introduced into this world, and it is possible that both parents may contribute to not providing enough support. If it is only a one income family, the father is usually labeled the bread winner. Although he may be able to do his job adequately--usually a production worker--but often does a poor job dealing with the emotions of the family. His job may have very little emotional contact, and he is measured on what his production numbers are; therefore, he does not have much experience with human emotions and avoids it. He may sacrifice his love to his family by giving them material items that symbolize love.
Usually when both of the parents work, there is a better communication system between the two, because often they hold jobs where frequent emotional communication is essential to their position. They treat each other as a whole, trying to understand each other. The security that they will receive out of this will cause them to feel stable; however, when this type of family runs into complex emotional problems, the parents may avoid each other by working longer hours or just not coming home. Then the parent tries to buy the love of the child back through gifts, hoping that this will serve as a sufficient substitute. The parents try for love and affection but instead the children end with loneliness and despair. These children will have anything that they desire; the consequence it that they lose out on the need to feel secure and loved. “They feel ambivalent about the gifts, may not take good care of them, and--to the chagrin of parents--may act pretty ungrateful” (Boundy 91). The parents hope that any grief will be taken care of by the gift and then spending a few moments with them. It will work for a while. Soon the child will try to fill his emotional pain through craving attention, resulting in a problematic child. The children may have no respect for anyone, because they have inferred that everyone can be bought just like them. Since humans learn through imitating and copying one another, the result is that these children will act in the same manner as their parents--providing only material goods. These material goods are thought of as a substitute for emotions, and no soul will never mature with an emptiness inside of them.
Security and trust is also labeled with money, because these requirements stem from our safety needs. If the emotional attention is sacrificed, then the need for security or trust will be found elsewhere, and money is the source. Printed on United States currency is IN GOD WE TRUST, and if we sacrifice trust we violate the entire reason of money--a unit of exchange.
Psychologically money wrecks havoc on our society because of all its symbolic meanings. Power is the main ingredient that is brewing in the cauldron, because many believe that power can be bought. When they believe that this power is achieved their self-esteem skyrockets with it. Also, the repetition of thinking will lead to believing, and these people may be attracted to the opposite sex easier because of the obvious changes--slick hair, new threads, and a roll of money. How can a strong emotional bond between two individuals form when someone is madly in love-- with money.
The evolution of money is outstanding, but what it stands for is irritating. The value that was put on labor has diminished, leaving ways to increasing status, having sexual valor, feeling powerful, feeding self-esteems, filling emotional voids, and creeping into debt. Now there is one question left to pose: When will we stop gazing into the wilderness to find only a tree?
Aristotle, “Politics”, in The Works of Aristotle, 1267. Trans. W.D. Ross, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1921.
Bonafoux, Pascal. Van Gogh, Passionate Eye. New York: Abrams Inc.
Boundy, Donna. When Money is the Drug. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.
Jamison, Kay Redfield. “Manic-Depressive Illness and Creativity.” Scientific American. Feb. 1995: 62-67.
Nietzsche, Freidrich. Beyond Good &Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Random House, 1966.
Schott, John W., and Jean S. Arbeiter. “Emotional Investments.” Psychology Today. Jan-Feb. 1998: 56.