“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Why are you so worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. …Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matt. 6:26 – 29, 31 – 34
Have you ever thought about money? Ian and I discussed money as we bought smoothies and food at World Wrapps yesterday in Bell Square. Bell Square, where each shop vies for attention and offers opulence in exchange for—what? A piece of paper, or plastic? We pass slips of ornately-printed paper and round chunks of metal around in exchange for our hearts’ desires. Yet what have we given the salesperson but a rectangular paper with “20” on it, or coins pressed with a specific pattern? The money’s value fluctuates, too, so that when we travel around the world another country’s prices don’t mean the same thing in dollars as they do in that country’s currency. But the paper hasn’t changed; it’s still green with fancy patterns and sparkles, watermarks and signatures, and of course the all-important value-marker—$10, $20, $50, or $100. In this manner we pass debt around; we teach our children the “value” of money, and in this way maintain its value. If one generation decided, “Hey, this stuff is worthless,” where would the economy go?
Think about credit or debit cards for a moment. They offer even less than paper/coin money because all you give somebody is the promise of payment—your name scribbled on a piece of paper. The passing of debt in this way is an elaborately constructed idea that everybody in our society has agreed to believe in. How tenuous this arrangement is, yet how solid too—since we all believe it, to destroy the system it would take a complete revolution of thinking. And Americans as a whole don’t tend to like thinking revolutionarily. But think: Ian and I pay for our educations (granted, not of quantifiable value but universally respected as worth paying for) with credit cards and act as though we’ve paid out $30,000 for my tuition; the school, similarly, acts as if we’ve paid the $30,000 we owed; and we receive our services. But honestly, what have we actually given in exchange for the education? Nothing… and $30,000.
I’m confused, so I’ll stop now. Suffice it to say, paper money at least has the value of paper and coins have the value of their component elements, but credit/debit cards have only the promise of payment. Yet these tenuous forms of payment continue to work for our society and prevent us from having to barter, pay in kind, or work in exchange for food or clothing—so I’m not complaining.
How did Gatsby really get his money?
When does a married couple lose the title “newlyweds”?
Do people need to avoid carbohydrates to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
What makes a stable marriage?
Why some people can read more quickly than others?
Do cell phones actually cause brain damage?
What is the most effective way to motivate a person?
Would the world end if the sun suddenly went out?
Who does nobody go to OnlyWriting?
Why am I asking these questions?
– KF –