Thoughts about money

As you entered this life
I pray you'll depart
With a wrinkled face
And a brand new heart — U2 (Love and Peace or Else)

Ivan and I are sit­ting in front of the win­dow. When I peek over my lap­top, I see cars whoosh­ing past, now and then stand­ing still. How­ev­er, I am not here to peek but to look for work. Besides fol­low­ing vacan­cies in my field I am now also search­ing for jobs that have income as the only moti­va­tion. The rea­son is that the com­ing time our life will be more expen­sive than the past months, due to the high rent and food prices in Eng­land.

Talk­ing about mon­ey quick­ly becomes a bit embar­rass­ing, but on the Dutch Bud­get Day I think I can risk it. James Buchan says that in all rela­tion­ships between peo­ple trust in mon­ey has become a sub­sti­tute for trust in oth­ers (except between close blood rel­a­tives). This means that the human fac­tor can dis­ap­pear. On a broad­er scale, the gap between humans and nature becomes wider. This is not some­thing of the past few years or cen­turies. Buchan men­tions St. Fran­cis of Assisi, who opposed the view that nature would be sub­or­di­nate to finan­cial cal­cu­la­tion.

And today there is Mar­i­anne Thieme, who is wear­ing a green dress full of ban­knotes to the cer­e­mo­ny. She protests against the green ‘sales talk’ of the Cab­i­net. “Talk about green ener­gy is words, not deeds. Mon­ey is all that mat­ters, but what good is that when the ice­cap is melt­ing.”

Eiffel tower

Eco­nom­ic growth is a sacred goal and a par­a­digm that does not seem to be ques­tion­able. Tol­stoy also noticed this when he pro­posed to use the Ser­mon on the Mount as a rule of life for soci­ety. Don’t col­lect trea­sures on earth. Do not resist a per­son who does evil, but turn the oth­er cheek. Love your ene­mies and do not judge. Peo­ple said that his con­vic­tion was due to:

… my fail­ing to appre­ci­ate the full val­ue of the lofty civ­i­liza­tion to which mankind has attained at present, with its Krupp can­nons, smoke­less pow­der, col­o­niza­tion of Africa, Irish Coer­cion Bill, par­lia­men­tary gov­ern­ment, jour­nal­ism, strikes, and the Eif­fel Tow­er.

Christ’s teach­ing is no use, because it is incon­sis­tent with our indus­tri­al age,” says Inger­soll naïve­ly, express­ing in this utter­ance, with per­fect direct­ness and sim­plic­i­ty, the exact notion of Christ’s teach­ing held by per­sons of refine­ment and cul­ture of our times. The teach­ing is no use for our indus­tri­al age, pre­cise­ly as though the exis­tence of this indus­tri­al age were a sacred fact which ought not to and could not be changed. It is just as though drunk­ards when advised how they could be brought to habits of sobri­ety should answer that the advice is incom­pat­i­ble with their habit of tak­ing alco­hol.

It is up to us to decide how big or small we make the role of mon­ey. I think it is impor­tant that politi­cians are not fix­at­ed on eco­nom­ic inter­ests and there­fore ful­ly agree with Mar­i­anne Thieme (trans­lat­ed by me):

Ecol­o­gy deter­mines the lim­its to eco­nom­ic growth and not vice ver­sa. At least, if we pur­sue a sus­tain­able world. But the eco­log­i­cal lim­its have been far exceed­ed. That requires mod­er­a­tion, fair dis­tri­b­u­tion and sol­i­dar­i­ty, instead of rigid­ly work­ing for eco­nom­ic growth and oppor­tu­ni­ties for com­pa­nies with­out envi­ron­men­tal restric­tions.

bird

Our own bud­get will undoubt­ed­ly adapt itself to the avail­able mon­ey. I try not to be too obsessed with apply­ing for jobs. Maybe I should peek out­side more often. To the sun­ny weath­er that appears to con­tin­ue all week, and the fuch­sia I plant­ed in the front yard. At least Ivan stays relaxed. He prob­a­bly pays more atten­tion to the birds of the air: they nei­ther sow nor reap … it is the heav­en­ly Father who feeds them.

fleuron

Ref­er­ences:

  • Buchan, J. (1997) Frozen desire: An Inquiry into the Mean­ing of Mon­ey
  • Thieme, M. (2009) Het gelijk van de dieren, het geluk van de mensen
  • Tol­stoj, L. (1894) The King­dom of God Is With­in You