WEDNESDAY, 4 FEBRUARY 2015
Imagine someone asks you to make a rather significant monetary contribution to a cause, and you answer, “I don’t really make money. It’s not what I do.”
“What do you mean?” the person asks, a little shocked. “Everyone needs money!”
Not one to let a chance go by to point out a misconception, you say that of course most people need money, but that not everyone needs to make money. As examples you point to monks and nuns, the children of rich people, people who have inherited a lot of money, criminals who have stolen enough money, and so on.
You explain that you do have a part-time job, but that you make just enough money to pay rent, buy food, pay the bills, and do something fun every now and then. Any extra money is saved so that you can afford to travel to the country of your birth to visit your family every year or two.
After going back and forth it might emerge that you do in fact try to make more money.
“Yes,” you admit. “That is so.”
You explain that you are not stupid. You are aware of the benefits of having more money than what you need to buy food and pay for your life insurance and cover the telephone bill and so on, and to once a month go see a movie. “So I try to make more money, but again, it’s not my first priority.”
“You don’t have children, do you?” the other person asks somewhat annoyed.
“No,” you reply. “For that I will indeed need a lot more money.”
“If making money is not your first priority, then what is?” the other person asks, by now visibly irritated.
“Like every other human being on this planet,” you start in measured tones, “including the man or woman who lovingly raises a family, the man or woman who worships a god in great sincerity, and the man or woman who consumes large quantities of drugs or alcohol, I try to make my own life worth living. And I have discovered that there are things that cost relatively little or no money that actually make me feel like my life is worth living, much more than was the case when I was merely trying to make as much money as possible and not much else.
“If by who I am and what I do I end up contributing to other people also being more convinced that their lives are worth living,” you add after a brief pause, “that is also good.
“But,” you say, circling back to the start of the conversation, “unfortunately I simply do no make enough money at the current moment to contribute much to this very noble cause.”
Is that good enough?
That will be the day.