According to the Oxford dictionary a drug is “A medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body”; although it can’t be injected, snorted or swallowed, money does emulate these properties. The origins of accumulated wealth began with the introduction of agriculture, and as large quantities of crops required tallying and distributing, accounting became a community necessity.
Our agricultural ancestors commenced trading livestock, tools, land, crops, but it wasn’t until around 6th century BCE did the coin take its place in history. With the arrival of currency more goods and services could be traded between individuals, it also lead to the societal divide between the haves and have not’s. As time arrives to its current position we can examine the saliency people project onto money and objects, and the sacrifices they endure to acquire what’s desired. Like drugs, money can be used to improve people’s lives, but also it can lead them into psychosis.
Money’s Moulding Of The Mind
Surrounded by the pleasures of progress it’s hard for many to even conceptualize a society without money, its influence dictates people’s behaviour, opinions and the development of social hierarchy. A sense of clear-headedness occupies the mind of those who can afford whatever they want, yet, this opening is prone to being filled with haughty notions. Money is an apt beguiler as it abstracts an image of freedom and status; both those with and without a substantial amount feed their imagination with visions of affluence, altering action to hopefully drag themselves closer to their envisioned goal.
The accumulation of wealth provides more opportunities for one to partake in, however, with their increased freedom often surfaces a neurotic state where one doesn’t hope but expects events to fall in their favour. Although not a chemical substance, having money has the ability to change our view of reality. Having more than most leads many individuals to believe they are superior to others, and being superior it is unjust for another to claim the rewards they deserve.
Reality becomes increasingly distorted when this mindset cements in the psyche, to improve their perceived stature a craving for more surfaces, a yearning morphing into compulsive conduct. The addictive tendency of money affects the rich and poor, both seeking to prove their worth to a society who bases success on the benchmark of material wealth. With capital as society’s ruling creed, morality is regularly neglected at the sake of revenue while individuals are doped by avarice.
At least when people are intoxicated by drugs they can blame the chemicals for their questionable behaviour, but when have we ever hear a CEO come out and say, “Sorry for my actions, I was under the influence of greed”. There is no correlation between wealth and morality and maybe some addicts have more integrity than the ravenously wealthy.
Is Society Sick?
If we consider money to be a drug or at least have similar properties, does it allude to the fact that we’re living in a sick society? A community basing wealth merely on capital clearly has had its collective conscious contaminated, the illness materializing vividly as people frantically rush like squirrels to acquire possessions.
With added material surrounding an individual it is common for them to start barricading their personal space, separating their existence from the plights of the wretched. Insulated by the comfort of money it can be truly difficult for them to comprehend what’s occurring outside their door, even harder when intentionally avoiding its gaze.
According to psychologist Christopher Ryan, these individuals are actually in pain; it’s tough to see others suffering and to be someone who could genuinely help weighs a burden over the conscious. To alleviate stresses of the affliction a defensive mechanism is installed which only allows them to see their world and that of people with similar status. Coined Rich Asshole Syndrome, it implies that many seen as the “winners” in civilization are actually suffering from “compounded disappointment of being lucky yet still feeling unfulfilled”.
The capitalistic doctrine of progress at all costs leaves the man-made world covered in communications reading, “CONSUME”, our passion for material seems to know no bounds. The dopamine kick we receive after purchasing is a short riding wave which breaks and disseminates when the novelty wears off; as the inevitable hunger rises again, one returns cash in hand to the line-up ready for their temporary elation. The pursuit of happiness is stunted when material is the prime motivator. As objects age their new counterparts come into the market and happiness is now dependent on an upgrade, not in what one already has.
Epicurean philosophy has been habitually misinterpreted or reimagined for individual benefit. The actual purpose of his philosophy was to teach people the importance of abstaining from unnecessary desires, not over indulging in them, to reach a level of tranquility found in being satisfied with the basic components of existence. Unfortunately, in contemporary society our appetites are consistently moistened with the desire for more, leaving a community full with wealth but starved of connection and contentment.
Just like those under the influence of chemicals, having disposable finances alters one’s perception of the world; not only does society appear different but the mind conjures a misleading position within it. It’s clear there are similarities between drugs and money, in particularly their additive nature, yet one is seen as depraved by the masses whilst the other valiant.
Since the beginnings of agriculture civilization has been on a direct track to the individualistic, capital driven society the West is proud to have procured, however, the excess amassed isn’t distributed between community members but stockpiled by a minute percentage of people. If our society’s health is to improve education is required for people to learn to that prolonged happiness and meaning doesn’t come from squirrelling possessions, but learning to appreciate the basic gifts of life.
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