I am towards the fag end of the fellowship journey. Fair to say, the year has shaken some of my fundamental beliefs and left me with a lot of questions, unanswered yet. One of them is my understanding of money. A few days ago I wrote a poem on money and happiness and some reflections on how the correlation between them might not be strong after all. This then also fundamentally questions the premise of our current society and the way it operates.
When it comes to achieving certain level of satisfaction, money plays an important role. For those who disagree, name a person who is happily starving? As Mae West once said “I have been rich and I have been poor; believe me, rich is better”. It’s easy for those who take the pleasures of life for granted to say that money does not matter but ask a migrant who works two shifts a day so that his family can afford bare minimum necessities of 21st century. It takes lifetime of savings of a daily wage laborer to shift from kuchha house to a single room pucca house. It is not like i do not understand this; and this expression comes from a place of utopian thoughts. Stay with me for some more time before i circle back to this …
In context of money, happiness and migration; all the three coexist in a complex system. Migration out of distress itself signifies an unhappy situation. The living and working condition of migrant may not look like an ideal situation where anyone would like to be but still people migrate to the economic centers to generate income to fulfill the needs of himself and dependents.
As per my experience, level of happiness has some amount of relationship with money but it is majorly governed by level of emphasis that society puts on wealth creation. Money motivates people to be more productive but it does at cost of human emotions that connects people. In this race of wealth creation, the focus is shifting from being humane to being practical.
Recently, I got an invitation to attend a wedding in tribal community and I was surprised to see that all the arrangements and decisions with respect to managing the ceremony was not restricted to the host; but the community. Food was prepared by the community, logistics and expenses were taken care by friends and relatives. There was minimal financial burden on family to host the marriage ceremony. Had it been any other big fat Indian wedding, it would have cost a major chunk of savings. The bonding that I found in the community had no relationship with money but was more due to the social belongingness.
The point i am trying to drive home here is that in order to have a meaningful and fulfilling life, it is important that we should not isolate our self from people who define our identities and possibly gives us a purpose to continuously struggle. The question to ask ourselves is that is the need to earn (more) money pushing us to isolation? Most of the experience i have had is leading me to believe that the unfortunate answer to this is YES. There seems bleak possibilities of how we can get one by not compromising on the other. Any thoughts?
Meanwhile, here is the poetry i mentioned at the start of the piece …
मानव के विकास में पैसा, रिश्तो के विकास में पैसा।
बच्चो की शिक्षा में पैसा, बीमार के इलाज में पैसा।
रोटी कपड़ा मकान में पैसा, घर की ज़रूरत, दुकान में पैसा।
किसान की खेती में पैसा, गृहिणी की रसोई में पैसा।
मेले, त्यौहार में पैसा; रोज़ के व्यव्हार में पैसा।
अमीरों का इज़्ज़त पैसा, गरीबो की ज़रूरत पैसा।
आज इंसान की हर ज़रुरत, और ख़ुशी की गारंटी पैसा।
पैसा है कुंजी आत्मसम्मान का, ज़रुरत है सबका, हर इंसान का।
करता है सुनिश्चित स्वास्थ व शिक्षा, मिटाता है भूख, देता है खुशिया जहान का।
Bertrand Russell said- Money is important to fulfill basic needs, thereafter it is other emotions which determine whether we are happy or not. Further, Khushwant Singh said- Money is not God but by God it is not less than God.
Nice to learn about your understanding of Man, Money and Happiness. Keep writing.