Money Problems

money problemsThings that we consider self destructive can be placed in a very long list for many different reasons. Among many of these vices is a common theme, addiction.

Nothing, as far as I know, destroys our autonomy and control as much as it. Any recovering drug addict, gambler, or obese person can testify to this. When a want dominates our thinking and goals negatively then it can be the most self destructive force in our lives.

Money, like drugs and food, has the ability to cloud our thinking and dominate our desires. Many people set their goals according to how much money they can make, and make stressful life choices in order to make a more of it even if they don’t really need it.

That last statement I think deserves attention in particular. To lose the ability to make the rational choice between different choices based on clear risk reward scenarios is very dangerous. This can characterize addiction to a large extent, which makes it a taboo.

But why isn’t the greed for money taken under the same light? Why is gambling a vice to many people, but wasting one’s health and happiness to make money not considered so. Just like how hard drugs are considered evil very broadly for its adverse affects on our well being, shouldn’t money be considered so as well?

What immunizes money from the discussion? The reasons that come to mind is that the people that have the most of it have a grave interest in maintaining its importance, and they have the power and means to exercise that will. The way they can do so extends from media manipulation to direct bribery, but the means are certainly very powerful.

What’s more is that people are often unaware of this, and this can be an even bigger problem. People don’t usually think there’s any issue with this subject. This lack of awareness is exactly what makes the addiction most deadly.

The only thing more dangerous to your health than having a disease is being unaware of it.

Another reason money has broken free from the shackles of wide public criticism is that money’s hazardous effects have a much longer timeline.

Much like smoking, the problems of money addiction are only seen after a long time in most cases. Drugs on the other hand have a much shorten time period before you see the undesired effects.

A final reason is that there’s a very shady line between what amount of money a person needs to sustain a happy lifestyle and how much he wants for the sole purpose of greed. Ask 10 people how much money they think is enough for them to live comfortably and you’ll get 10 different answers. I know, I’ve tried it.

This is a problem because trying to limit one’s desired income would immediately provoke ‘communism allergies’ and fear from loss of freedom. Neither of these are necessary consequences in either case.

Whatever the reason may be, we can’t solve it on a global scale. I suppose that the best we can do, and there is much satisfaction in this for me, is to be aware of the nature of money and try to orient our goals in a way that is less dependent on it. To live a fulfilled, happy, and memorable life has very little to do, in my opinion, with how many zeros there are in your bank account.

Based on the above premise, it seems foolish then to ever prioritize money above all else. The biggest challenge, however, is to try and coexist with a society that does.

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Do Children Have Too Much Freedom?

do children haveI read an essay question recently that interested me. It asked if you agreed that children these days have too much freedom.

I did not have a strong opinion on the subject but after some reasoning, I believed my conclusion to be a good one.

The idea is that freedom is intrinsically good, just like being good, and intelligent. We can’t say that being too intelligent is bad, or being too good is bad without running into some kind of contradiction.

It may be true that these traits are not always desirable by all people, but it is hard to argue that someone who is extremely good or extremely bad should be scrutinized.

Can freedom fall under the same category of intrinsic value? In other words, is freedom good only insofar as it serves a particular end or is it good independently? It would seem to me that if we think of freedom as something that derives its value externally, we would run into several problems.

Efficiency is a trait that derives its value externally because absent the financial incentive or the need to survive, efficiency can have no value. Is freedom, then, similar to efficiency in that sense, or is it more similar to being good and intelligent?

If freedom was similar to efficency, then we ought to ask what external good do we achieve from being free? And it is here that the proposition runs into problems.

Put more simply, if there was a certain button that you can press to become more intelligent, no one would ask you, “why do you want to become more intelligent?” There is no reason required, being intelligent is independently valuable.

What about efficiency? Well, here it is actually conceivable that people can question why you want to be more efficient. You would need to answer their question by pointing to something that you may achieve by being more efficient.

Freedom in this sense is more like intelligence. You cannot ask someone why he wants to be free. Are children allowed too much freedom? Its possible that they are, but given that most activities that would harm them already do not allow their participation, then it shouldn’t be a problem to allow them to be as free as possible within that controlled realm.

Children are only given too much freedom in very few occasions where a large amount of responsibility is set upon them, but all in all, I think it’s a good thing that with time, they are being allowed to be more expressive, autonomous, and imaginative.

Don’t Judge a Fish

dont judge a fishThere’s a famous saying that says, “Don’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.” Whenever I heard this saying in the past, I would smile or nod in agreement but never really thought of it in much depth.

In our society, monkeys, fish, and birds live together and those who are considered successful and accomplished are the ones who can climb a tree.

I can think of little things more depressing than the idea of people feeling incompetent because they simply haven’t been allowed to follow their passion.

In many conversations I’ve had with people, I’ve noticed a very common and alarming theme. It seems to go something like this. After struggling in school they finally find a passion, something they’re really good at. But it doesn’t pay. You have to be very lucky to be successful.

Their parents know and understand this, and do whatever is necessary to prevent them from doing what they like. This is not applicable to every country but it does to Lebanon where clichés and singular ways of living are cherished and endlessly preached.

The youth of this country will go through this process. And they will ditch their dreams for reality, but at some point, we need to question the structure that is underlying our convictions about life and what’s important.

A lot of potential will be lost, and many lives will be made miserable by this truly dangerous kind of thinking. My hope is that one day, this mentality will be a thing of the past, the way it is in many prosperous countries in the world.