We are all infinite spiritual beings having a human experience in finite physical bodies. We come into this world with no possessions and we leave with none; however, through the course of our lives we acquire knowledge and have experiences that shape and mold us over time. These intangible attributes we possess ultimately define the value we bestow upon society and not the material goods we have amassed over the course of our lives. There is an old saying that we are all equal in the eyes of God. Yet, tell that to a poor man cleaning the toilet of a billionaire. Can we legitimately measure the value of one person’s knowledge and skills over another’s without bias? In essence, is my time, your time, an actor’s time, a politician’s time, a banker’s time, an athlete’s time, any more valuable than any other human being’s time?
In our complex global economy it is very difficult to survive without money (I know there are people doing it and it is possible but that is an entirely different topic.) I have been giving the concept of money some thought for a while now trying to determine what it exactly means for me, or anyone for that matter. I’ve often heard that money is nothing more than energy, but I think it goes a little deeper that. In my eyes, money is a measurement of our time and energy. Consider this, if you strip away all the intricate workings of our financial systems it all boils down to an exchange between one individual and another. I want something you have, whether it be a physical item or a service you provide, so I offer you something in return. A long time ago bartering was used to exchange goods or services, and still is in some cultures today. However, in most parts of the world money has since taken the place of bartering and is used as a way to exchange each of ours’ time and energy. Any way you slice it, we use our time and energy whether we are offering a service or providing a physical item for something in return. If you provide financial advice for someone you are using your time and energy. If I grow food in my garden and sell it at a farmers market it takes my time and energy to do so. If a person goes into the forest and cuts down a tree and builds a chair from the wood, they are using their time and energy. If you work for a paycheck you are using your time and energy. Even a Wall Street banker goes to work and uses his or her time and energy (don’t hate me for saying that.)
If you have taken notice of the world economic crisis and the colossal wealth disparity between the rich and poor you have no doubt realized something has went terribly wrong along the way. I won’t pretend to know when or how it happened but it is clear that the world’s system of wealth is grossly lopsided. When was it decided that the time and energy of the world’s wealthy individuals was much more valuable than any of ours? I’ll tell you when, when anyone decides to exchange their time and energy for anything of lesser value in return. For example, a person works their butt off all week in a hot miserable factory to earn a paycheck and exchanges half their earnings to buy tickets to a sporting event where grown men are highly overpaid to play with a ball. Or perhaps a family purchases a house and pays an overinflated market price that is nowhere near the true value of the home. How much of your time and energy do you have to sacrifice in exchange for movie theater tickets to watch very wealthy actors spew out their lines? To help you better understand this concept of your time and energy let me give you a hypothetical scenario.
Imagine waking up tomorrow and all the human made products were gone. No more beds, TVs, houses, clothes, cars, buildings, factories, etc. The only thing left on this planet was the natural resources and all 7 billion of us. What would be the first thing you would do? Would you go toil in a gold mine for several days and take your bounty to the first banker you saw in exchange for an apple he or she pulled from a tree? Wouldn’t you just go get the apple yourself? In this hypothetical situation I’m certain that the first priority for all of us would be water, food and shelter. In fact, those people with survival skills would be much more valuable than the athlete who is gifted at catching a ball or a slick talking real estate investor. If you wouldn’t be duped into an unfair exchange of your time and energy in my conjured up scenario, then why would you be duped now?
I got the idea for this post after reading and hearing about the OWS (Occupy Wall Street) event that is fast becoming a worldwide phenomenon. And even though my financial status puts me in with the 99% I wanted to take an objective approach to what is happening. The protestors, who are referring to themselves as the 99%, are fed up that the 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth, and rightly so. However, who are we to blame for this financial inequality? Sure, it would be easy to point the finger at the 1% and in some case of criminal and malicious activity they are solely to blame. Nevertheless, remember my hypothetical scenario of exchanging days of laboring for gold for an apple? We are all to blame for this global wealth disparity. We of the 99% allowed ourselves to be convinced that our time and energy was of lesser value, therefore allowing the 1% to essentially prosper and thrive for a miniscule fraction of their time and energy.
Ultimately, my intention of this post isn’t to point the blame, but to help each of you understand that your time and energy as a human being on this planet is just as valuable and esteemed as anyone else’s. You may not be a professional athlete, actor, elite banker, CEO, politician, or trust fund baby but that doesn’t mean that your contribution to society should be deemed any less ambitious. As individuals, once we realize we are our own problem and solution we can empower ourselves to the point where we don’t allow others to take advantage of our time and energy. Isn’t it about TIME?