Money in my pocket
Money talks. The other day, the money in my pocket spoke up and made me feel important. It said how exceedingly special I was in its presence – or so I thought. Reaching deep down, I grasped hold of a fair amount of cash and coins; a little more than usually was there. Rubbing it between my fingers made me feel good. Somehow, I felt more significant than a moment before.
Suddenly…my life mattered.
How valuable is one plain old person without any money in their pocket? What would most people honestly prefer, ten good friends who are poor or $10,000? Wouldn’t most of us take the money and run? After all, more cash on hand does make a difference. And friends with obvious needs can be inconvenient. Prosperity usually makes a person more popular. So it goes.
Money is like a magnet: People are drawn to it.
Don’t we often feel more important around money? But does money feel important being around us? If we all presented ourselves to a huge pile of cash, would this mound of paper mixed with plastic feel (if it actually could feel) more valuable than before? Probably not. Money is obviously worth something; it symbolizes value. Money doesn’t need anyone to feel important. Or so it seems.
But we humans are always searching for something more significant – a car, a career, a popular person, a place, an accomplishment, etc. – to stand beside. This common and sometimes desperate quest for personal value is based upon significance by association; yes, this appears to be how the system works. Most of us must feel that we are lacking in value on our own. How else can we explain all the jockeying for position that goes on down here?
For that matter, how else can I explain what goes on in my own head?
Recently I returned from traveling to Vancouver. It was an enjoyable trip for a variety of reasons. This journey involved taking a bus, flying on a couple of planes, riding the Skytrain in metro Vancouver, taking a taxi and driving my old Toyota. But how does this west coast adventure relate to the significance by association game?
For starters, Vancouver arguably has more status as a city in Canada than most. Vancouver has the ocean, the mountains, fertile land, rugged beauty, a mild climate, and quite a few fancy people with loads of stuff; the Lower Mainland in British Columbia is a very prosperous place. So it felt good to say where I was going.
And guess which means of transportation provided a little lift in the personal value department along the way? That is, until I regained my sense of sanity. Any ideas? It wasn’t the common taxi or the lowly bus or even that ancient import. No, important people fly or travel in style. Don’t you know. Perhaps if I had flown in on a private jet and hopped on a high-speed Skytrain that would have really been impressive.
What was I thinking?
Not that there is anything essentially wrong with this overall technique or approach. The madness has more to do with what or who we choose to associate ourselves with in order to feel important. Hand a young person an Olympic gold metal over in Sochi, and what has really changed in terms of the core worth of this person? Not much. Having a heavy hunk of bullion may signify speed or strength or victory…but so what? Since when does moving really fast or being the best prove that your life matters?
Core worth must be acquired by way of an association or relationship with something or someone else. But what or who?
Here is a provocative statement to ponder: In one sense, human life does not have intrinsic value. To make it more personal, this means that my life isn’t that important all by itself. Neither is yours. And yes, this implies that being a part of humanity – and being associated with all those grand accomplishments over the years – counts for nothing. After all, how could a relationship with lots of people who lack intrinsic value make your life or mine more valuable?
Ultimately, core meaning and value and purpose and worth is found in relationship to God. Deny this, and secondary things suddenly become way too important.
More money in my pocket doesn’t actually make me more important as a person. Life doesn’t work that way. Each one of us is worth much more than any amount of cash.
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