You know that old bullshit saying ‘time is money’? Uh, no. This is a rather short addition to the 10 Steps, but it might be one of the most important. Realize that the only true currency is time and love. Money is an illusion but it can get you in some deep trouble so live within your means. You have build thick skin in order to resist advertising and focus mostly on needs, and only the occasional wants.
Human beings are the only species that have to pay in order to live on this planet. The powers to be figured this out long before the rest of us and found the perfect system of control – money. If we don’t play by their rules we go to prison, which robs of us the only two things of true value in this life – time and being close to those we love.
Imagining a world without money is actually a really hard mental exercise, but very rewarding. You immediately run into the most obvious downsides – anarchy, chaos, violence – but keep at it. Will a one world order ever work without massive, total control? isn’t it better to have autonomous communities of like-minded individuals but global guidelines that prohibit violence against another tribe? Who would enforce that? Nobody has the answers to these questions yet but if we keep on having these dialogues at every opportunity, I think we will eventually figure something out.
Lately, there has been some focus on the psychology of poverty, which I think is incredibly important. Oxfam recently released a study that concluded by 2016 (next year!!) 51% of all wealth on the planet will be owned by the 1%. I’ve noticed some people refute this by saying, “oh, that’s silly, if you make more than $34,000 a year, you belong to the 1%” but I think that only makes that study even more insane! That means that nestled in there with the world’s 500 billionaires and thousands of millionaires, only a handful of people are making a decent salary anymore. 40% of Americans are now living under the poverty line. 2/3 are living paycheck to paycheck with no safety net. 1 in 5 children go hungry to bed. These are crazy, crazy numbers and the policies of austerity and “welfare for the rich, free market for everyone else” in the US and Europe are only going to escalate these mind-boggling statistics. No banker has yet to go to prison for their crimes and the banks still consider themselves too big to jail, or even investigate. Clearly, in a society such as this, money is a complete joke. It has no basis in reality. But it still dictates the way we live our life. The stress and worry about making ends meet is sending us all to an early grave.
But poverty is also impacting our decisions short term. When your life is designed around paying the next bill, there can be no long-term planning. ‘Go back to school’, or ‘get a new job’ is about the most unhelpful advise you can give a person who is wondering how to feed their family on $30 for the next week. Add to this situation the hundreds of advertisements an average person is bombarded with daily, just walking down the street and watching TV. These advertisements are designed by very clever people to make you feel even worse about yourself and your life, but if you buy this one product, you might just turn everything around. Globally, more than 500 billion dollars is spent on advertisements each year. So poor people treat themselves to a little bit of luxury every now and then – because that’s what society tells us to, right? Then snotty non-poor people have the audacity to ask why poor people make such bad financial decisions. Great to know humanity has its priorities straight!
As of right now, it is still pretty much illegal to put people in prison over debt and owing money, but the way society is going that’s going to have to change pretty soon. The American prison industrial complex has been so successful at jailing people for minor offenses over the past 30 years that it is one of the country’s most booming industries. Although the US only has 5% of the world’s population, they can boost 25% of the world’s incarcerated people. Poor people are of much better use to the system packing meat and making furniture for 80 cents an hour, than out on the street being unemployed and numbing the pain with substance abuse. Soon this machine, which is really just slavery with a modern twist, will run out of stoners and petty thieves (three strikes, life in prison, for stealing a coat to keep warm in the winter) but the one thing this system will never run out of is people with unpaid debts. In fact, I think what this system fears the most is debt-free people.
Our time here is limited and love is hard to find but without it there is really no reason to get up in the morning. To love your work, to infuse it with love and joy, to be able to love and treasure your friends, partner and family is about the only thing that matters. To love an animal! To be able to connect with the mind of another species, to nurture it and find mutual love with a creature that has no inherent reason to trust you at all, let alone care about you. That’s the stuff that makes life worth living. I know that each time one of my bunnies give me a kiss on forearm while we snuggle to let me know that I am a valued member of their tribe, I feel on top of the world.
Unfortunately, you can’t live on bunny kisses alone. It’s cliche by now, but cutting back on possessions is liberating! So many people are getting great at budgeting and trimming the fat from their expenses. Perhaps first out of necessity but then it starts to feel really good to leave a lighter footprint and stay more in harmony with our planet. Right now, this is the foundation of freedom, and you are going to need that extra energy and brain power because this battle for a less crazy world is hard and we need you.