The (real) value of money

MONDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2003

Many people want to be rich for the comfort and security it provides. Many people also want to be rich because they think it will make them feel important, and appear more important to others.

Financial wealth is also conducive to the average person whose life is anchored in the ever-changing cultural quagmire of the socio-economic middle class to be more confident of his or her identity. Money enables a person to acquire the badges the individual needs in order to appear to the world in a certain way. In this way, the individual can tell other people: “This is who I (think I) am, who I want to be, and how I would like to be seen. Here is the visible evidence.”

Wealth is thus seen (perhaps unknowingly) as an easy way to define identity, and continually confirm it – especially by people who do not have a lot of money, and who spend a significant amount of time in environments where money plays a prominent role in the development and display of identity.

… AND AN ACADEMIC NOTE

The above is what can be called an “answer” in the way I described a few pieces back. In this case, the initial questions would be: Why do so many people want to be rich? Is it just about the security of knowing you will have enough to eat today, and tomorrow, and possibly even next month? Or are we also driven by other instincts or motivations?

Most of my so-called answers are nothing more than personal theories. My methodology is also not terribly scientific. For example, I’ll think: “It appears to me that [Person X] is still not convinced of her own identity.”

Then, in the specified case, I’ll continue dusting or wiping away stains on the floor until the next thought enters my mind: “Strange, she’s always been overly attracted to money.”

Then, as I’m standing there with a cleaning cloth and a bottle of lighter fluid in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other, the moment of insight strikes: “Is the one thing possibly connected to the other?”

With the latter, I’ll have formulated a QUESTION. Upon identifying the most reasonable and likely ANSWER, I can formulate a THEORY.

Then I will sit down at the dressing table, open my notebook and write something like: “Many people want to be rich for the comfort and security it provides. Many people also want to be rich because they think it will make them feel important …”

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