A Note to Folks who Feel Money is the Root of All Evil.
How a Shaman's apprentice changed my view on money.
My opinions about money were shaped early on by comedians, specifically George Carlin & Bill Hicks. They (and others) spoke (often bluntly) to much of the oppression and corruption money has caused throughout the world.
Several experiments even illustrate how easily money can cause one’s ego to inflate. I remember watching one video in particular that really solidified my belief that more money turn people into assholes. Even watching it now makes me shake my head in indignation.
I related so much to these feelings, that I would sometimes fantasize about how if time travel were possible, I'd go back in time and kill the person or group that invented currency.
While I still do believe that money is currently one of the most egregious forms of slavery, I also acknowledge the fact that, currently, using money is the form of currency exchange we are stuck with for the time being. Also, I don’t consider money inherently evil anymore. It can be used to facilitate and bring about good. The reason my views on money shifted was due to a Shaman’s apprentice.
When I was gleefully wandering around Toronto, Ontario Canada with my then girlfriend, we had the opportunity to meet several Shaman’s who essentially held these popup and roving Ayahuasca ceremonies. The two of us never participated in the ceremonies themselves, as neither of us felt like it was the right time for us. However, we were able to meet with and talk to these various Shaman’s, and in one case, his apprentice.
Due to the sensitive nature of some of this information, not to mention complicated legality, I’m not going to use real names. It’s to protect privacy, so let’s call my then girlfriend at the time Mali.
If I recall correctly, Mali had offered to give the Shaman’s apprentice a massage, as she is well-versed in the Thai style and philosophy, having been born and partially raised in Thailand. After the massage, the apprentice was astounded by her skill. He quickly pulled out his wallet, sifting through his colorful Canadian currency.
“Here, let me give you some flow,” the apprentice said.
“Oh no, I don’t like involving money in these types of situations,” Mali said.
The appretice shaman chuckled slightly, and I got the feeling he’d heard something like this before.
He went on to explain how sure, money is not the best practice or invention in human history, but it was the system that most everyone on Earth uses to some extent. A quote from comedian Bill Hicks came to mind.
If you think you’re free, try going somewhere without fucking money.
The apprentice pointed out how, in today’s society, money is so engrained within all of our systems, that if every country, or even just a handful ceased using money, the world would be plunged into chaos. People would die.
He spoke about how, while it’s awesome and encouraged for others to try out alternate forms of living, especially as it pertains to commerce, the current monetary system of commerce is the current system all of us are, for lacker of a better word, stuck inside.
One of the biggest points he made was about how anyone wanting to do anything of merit requires money. Sure, we can shun money, not get a regular job and just live on fringes of society. But, as he pointed out, that makes living in this world much more challenging for those who decide to live in that way.
He concluded his point by sharing how, for the time being, it’s up to us to simply change our perspective about money, but not to the point where we become greedy or cling to whatever cash we have. Rather, we change our perception and view money more as, what he called “flow,” as in water, or blood.
He explained how we the people control where this flow goes, which was another, perhaps slightly more hippie way of saying how we vote more with our dollars than words or elections. In a way, it reminded me of this monologue by Ned Beatty’s character from the iconic movie Network.
While I’d like to think that there is more to this world and everything isn’t as monetary as Ned Beaty’s character makes things out to be, I do understand that many people, especially those in powerful positions within billion dollar corporations see the world in similar ways to what that character was espousing. This is the system to which we are currently chained.
Think about it. Even if money is evil, we still need it for food, shelter and in my case; travel. Again, I recognize there are alternate forms of travel, like hitchhiking or ride-sharing. I also acknowledge ways to get around having to pay for room, like work exchanges and/or couch surfing. I also acknowledge there are ways to get around paying for food, like, dumpster diving or even just growing a garden. However, these modes are not always reliable. In some cases, especially when it comes to work/help exchange, they are rife with potential of which people are being taken advantage.
This isn’t to say all of us should just give up and conform to our current system. Like the Shaman’s apprentice kinda said, we choose where to send our flow. Sure, being mindful of where we send our shekels means doing some research about the companies we send our flow, making sure they not only match our individual values, but also the larger cultural morality of what is right vs. what is unhealthy, also known as Corporate Social Responsibility. There are websites that track this, many of which are mentioned below in an article by Mashable.
9 Sites That Measure Companies' Social Responsibility
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In some cases, this may even involve speaking out and holding accountable the companies we find ourselves sending flow. And if you feel like that won’t make a difference, ask SeaWorld about its orca breeding, or ask Subway about its bread, or ask Netflix about Qwickster, or Microsoft about Paint, United Airlines or even Fox News to name a few if pressure from sponsors or public backlash lead to any changes in their practices. It doesn’t always work, but in this growing age where many of us are asking for more social responsibility from the places we give our flow, a lot of companies are making changes, at least in part because many decided to speak out. Sure, they’re mostly doing it for monetary reason, and maybe to avoid a potential long term headache, but they wouldn’t do anything in the first place if people didn’t make enough noise.
This is the power we have. Until a time comes when we don’t have to rely on money to eat things and go places, this is how we can use the root of much evil to do some good.
If you are looking for some ways to put money, energy, or time to good use, consider reading the following article I wrote last year, looking at apps you can use or games you can play that donate to charities, it’s “Literally, the Least You Can Do.”
If you enjoyed or resonated with these words in some way, feel free follow or read some other thoughts below. But no pressure, no obligation, no stress, no worries.
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