It stupefies my tiny human brain when I contemplate the formidable power of a few wrinkled pieces of funny-smelling, dry green paper. It may sound naively obtuse to all of the worldly, complacent materialists out there, but ever since I was a little kid I thought it was funny that pieces of paper should hold so much sway over a person’s very existence. I found it very curious, and I still do.
Essentially, we use money and NEED it because of how stupid we are. People cannot and WILL not give or do anything without getting money in return. “Well, naturally,” you may say, “how else does the world work?” But there are instances in which the demand for money should be superseded by higher obligations. For example, a sick person can be turned right out of the hospital if he/she does not have health insurance or any other means of paying the doctors on the spot. (I actually know two people to whom this has happened. One was having symptoms of a stroke; the other had an aggressive cancer. The latter is now deceased.)
There is something chilling about the fact that people expect one another to pay in order to stay alive, as if buying survival was akin to paying for a magazine subscription, or an iPod. Magazines and iPods are luxuries – they make life pleasurable, but you don’t absolutely need them. But survival is…well…survival.
In cases like the ones I mentioned above, doctors should be willing to accept delayed payment from a patient with a life-threatening or even a potentially life-threatening condition, if said patient cannot pay at that exact moment. I mean, come on! It isn’t as though doctors are such a financially strapped group of people, anyway!
This is just one example I can think of in which the nobility and compassion that humans believe they possess should override their immediate need for compensation now, now, now!
You can lose money, but you can get it back – even vast quantities of it. But an individual life can never be replaced. So which has more value? The expendable, or the irreplaceable?
But that’s exactly the point. People are still too bestial a species to give help to those who desperately need it without expecting something in return. But then, human stupidity has led to this exact same phenomenon – maybe if people felt that they could trust one another, this kind of selfless behavior would occur more often.
The world needs money because people are stupid, but then money makes the more irrational and amoral among us do stupid things, leading to more insecurity, resulting in a greater dependence on money. It’s a tragic cycle that feeds on itself.