I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. Not the usual kind of money thoughts, like how come I don’t have more and where did what I had go, but wondering about the origins of the world’s dependence on money. How did humans create a situation in which some people starve and suffer horrible indignities because they don’t have enough money, and other people inflict that starvation and suffering so they can have a lot of money? Forget about graven idols, of all human inventions, money is the one people have turned into their God. It’s what we worship, what we depend on for our survival, what we wrap our lives around. How did we get into this money fix?
Trading probably began when human beings were going around in animal skins and learning to build fires. A spare animal pelt for a fresh haunch of deer, maybe. And I suppose in time they began to accept tokens that stood for things they had to trade. Little stones or sticks, maybe.
But somewhere between those early trades and today, the tokens became more important than the thing the token stood for. Then it became more important than the person who gave it or got it. How did humans let that happen? How did we go from a cooperative system of exchange to a crushing system that stifles creativity, destroys lives, and crushes spirits? I don’t mean the history of our monetary system, like the progression from using shells and beads to the gold standard to whatever the heck it is that we have today, I mean how did we forget the purpose of a medium of exchange? Surely the original purpose was not to wage wars and oppress masses of people so a few people could live in luxury.
I’m sort of sorry I started this whole discussion now, because I’ve thoroughly depressed myself, but maybe somebody else has a good answer. All I know is that the words “In God We Trust” on a dollar bill really mean that the dollar bill IS the God we trust.