Reading Time: 11 minutes
I didn’t grow up in a rich family, although, I did grow up in a rich neighborhood, filled with famous celebrities, super successful businessmen and ancestrally rich folks, who walked around with big tummies and shiny shoes & clothes, haggling over the price of corn from the local street vendor, during the monsoons of the sub tropical neighborhood, some 11 minutes walking distance from the Arabian Sea. When I was growing up, the neighborhood was filled with nicely decorated and named bungalows, interspersed with few two-storey buildings, with crunched up flats, which housed my kind. Strangely, trees were still respected then, and I’m not even terribly old yet, and variety of them planted on the roads, as well as in the compounds of the bungalows and buildings, the most common one called Peltophorum. The bungalow owners always had a “Mali”, a caretaker of their garden and plants. They would manicure their lawns, prune the plants and provide manure for the flowering plants and get the whole area filled with colors, fragrance and beauty. It was a sight to behold, in spite of the bungalow owners, being MIA, uninvolved and unavailable to the beauty of their own homes and the fragrance of this tender blossoming flowers, which would wither away the same day, a very brief offering from Nature!
Richness must be an interesting thing, seems to take quite a bit to keep it up, and seems enjoyable to the extent one doesn’t feel poor within themselves!
Money seems to be hanging high in the cloudy awareness for most of us. It gives us the ability to purchase things, and somewhere, purchasing and having many things, makes us feel good about ourselves, doesn’t make us feel empty, gives us a purpose to our existing, gives a feeling of being fulfilled, accomplished, satisfied, and content – for the time being. No wonder, a whole lot of us have chosen to spend a substantial amount of time of our lives, on a daily basis, on the obscure process of hoarding monies, without doing a quality check, if the initial hypothesis around such a popular accumulation process, actually fulfills, accomplishes, satisfies or provides content, as planned. It would be preposterous to claim that money is the source of any problems, or its an evil, or it makes us spend way too much time running behind it, as if it was flirtatious to begin with. Money has a tremendous and unarguable utilitarian value, which cannot be offset by anything else. The reason is not anything else, but the simple fact, that is how we have arranged our affairs, to assist our survival needs, where currency, allows us to trade, purchase or sell commodities, giving an outright lift to our instinct of self-preservation. It’s a simple arrangement , gone berserk in our minds. The grandeur of accumulating and hoarding money, perhaps, comes from some other source, not limited to our ignorance and unwillingness to change, and it maybe worth investigating.
It must have all started, a very long time ago, when the species evolved to the point of being now named Homo Sapiens. The lore goes to lure and inform us, we used to be four-legged, then the spine and brain evolved, forming various types of apes, and amongst them monkeys, most took off to search for some alluring keys to success, while the rest dropped all search for keys, and became monks instead, in search of the inner keyless locks. Well, jest apart, when the spine became straight, brain got adorned over the delicate neck, which probably had a helluva job balancing the bouncy 3 pounds, which was supposed to unlock tremendous value for us, and a definite realization must have dawned upon the fresh homo sapiens brand, that they are freaking on their own now, in the vastness of the cosmos, where they must have struggled to find daily food, without any supermarkets or Amazon buying Whole Foods, and Joe wanting to become a trader etc. Their contemporary species, the animals, birds, insects, plants, worms, reptiles, on the other hand, had no such problem, and must have seemed pretty clever and efficient at finding food for themselves and although considered evolved, the sapiens probably must have found out, much to their own chagrin, they did not have the nails, teeth, strength, agility or knowhow, as yet, about procuring their daily food, unless, they start developing some tools, which can be used to enhance their single most advantage as an evolved being, their awareness of self.
Armed with this new insight, some naked smarty-pants, figuratively speaking, must have created the pointy spears, daggers, swords etc., something reasonably sharp to tear some other creatures apart for food, found out how to light a fire from a spark, without the matchstick, and thus, so many other creative and absolutely fantastic discoveries, must have happened in the wild, which we now take for granted, in today’s day and age, and instead struggle with fabricated nutrition labels and wonder whether we’ll be diabetic or a cardiac patient first. Tools must have been the real deal.
Without tools, there was no reason for the sapiens to have survived, as they were no match for the other creatures, who they were food for. Every stronger and agile animal could have gobbled down ‘em sapiens, without much thought or beef about it.
The spear and spark, were incredible discoveries, with a beautiful design to protect, defend, feed and attack when needed to hunt a kill, and relish the booty. The sapiens were finally ready to become a formidable force, equipped with tools and slowly picking up the knowhow on surviving well.
With the newly found strength, sapiens must have eventually realized, the arduous nature of their existing – nomadic, uncertain, risky and another smarty must have thought on wanting to relax at one place, not roam around as a nomad in hunt for daily food anymore, and must have consulted few wise guys with long beards, unless they had chopped it off with the same dagger, ignoring aftershaves or deodorants.
Together, the wise sapiens, probably not physically agile, but mentally sharp, a rare find for those times, must have observed the process of seeds becoming plants and fruits hanging out, which can be harvested in certain seasons, be stored for future use, and must have put two and three together, and come up with a four, and the first business plan of settling at one place, a big risk for those times, and thus forayed into the world of agriculture, with the promise of peace and prosperity.
We, the 21st century folks, live in a culture which agrees to everything, on the basis of inherited knowledge, but back then, the sapiens must have been very sharp, in developing agriculture and strategizing the storage needs, risking staying at one place, in order to stop wandering and instead start wondering about the pleasures of relaxing and food growing in the backyard, along with the occasional kill for taste or due to bad harvest, with an uninterrupted view of the natural scenery, avoiding ‘em realtors.
The seed for accumulation was probably born in this arrangement. Complacency breeds inertia.
It was easier to accumulate grains, store them, grow food using the (soil+water+tending) combination and create babies, raise them, domesticate some milky species, defend from carnivorous species, and you have a whole society going right there, with a defined modus operandi and prospective plans for growth, except…
Besides the wise guys, the remaining lot, must have seen the merit of living with such comfort very quickly, and must have started replicating similar behaviors. The underlying need to hoard must have started from the fact, it provided comfort and a non-nomadic life, which seemed easier and less risky, or so one would think. But, when the neighbors also started doing the same thing, fencing their living arrangements, calling their baby makers their own, and popping out a bunch of children and calling themselves family, their struggles probably must have multiplied, unbeknownst to the ideas of peace and prosperity they had previously envisioned. Families, must have become tribes, and different tribes must have formed communities and cultures, which at some point must have clashed for wanting to steal resources, and an umpteen number of unpredictable risks must have surfaced for them. Using the same tools, the sapiens had created for their wellbeing, they must have started fighting to kill, conquer and steal. The idea of course, was always self-interest and self-preservation, which must have led to such actions and in general, the feeling of, the more “I possess, the less I’ll need to work” and be secured with provision for food, shelter and occasional clothing, or lack of, for those times. And it is also worth noting that, if the sapien found an edible hunt, it was in his interest to hoard and consume as much as possible, considering the uncertainty of finding immediate hunt the next day.
The psychological basis of our hoarding habits goes back a long way, to the spine-erected sapiens, although, they lived in conditions where this habit was perhaps justified and served them well. It is an obviously irrelevant and destructive habit for the current times, which is neither justified nor serves us well.
So, here we are in the 21st century, tightly attired in slim-fit suits and gagged at the neck, attempting to choke the fundamental passage of our breathing apparatus, labeling it as fashion, making much hoopla about going to work at a street with a wall, and trading, exchanging billions of electronic certificates, as a symbolic gesture of our advanced state of living, and making thousands and millions of dollars and not having to worry about how to procure our daily food for surviving. A tremendous leap from the earlier sapiens, who were out in the wild, while we the civilized lot, are simply wild in the out. Its hard to argue though, if the basic instinct of today’s sapiens, is any different, then when they stood up, so to speak, and started walking on two. The fears, apprehensions, darkness, uncertainty and the constant need to defend etc., still seems to persist and forms the foundation on which the current sapiens organize their lives and construct their present.
We have undeniably built the comforts and conveniences, and in a manner of speaking, the first business plan, to relax and stop being a nomad, hunting for food etc., is a super success, but it could be certainly argued, that the human in the human being, who was physically an evolved version from his tailed ancestors, has either completely forgotten to evolve mentally or simply enjoys his distress and distractions, which still makes him behave the same way, when he was created, except in a more civilized manner, hidden behind suits, ties, shoes, purses, makeup, hairdo, watches, gels, belts etc.
He’s always looking for more, to store, save up for a rainy day, wants to feel less fearful by collecting more than his share, doesn’t want to share with others, feels scared within and goes to work daily in his borrowed car and mortgaged home.
Perhaps, accumulation is an instinct, which erroneously gives a sense of freedom, while shackling us even more to our unevolved brains, which we probably forgot to pay attention to when created, just because we could suddenly walk, run, hide, think, and slowly be more powerful than other species, because of the ability of creating tools to hunt, fight, defend and destroy others.
Its even more distressing to know that, after all the accomplishments in the various fields of energy, space, health, genetics, biotechnology etc. and having organized our food, water and shelter, the sapiens never learnt or wondered where to stop, because they were rushing fast with the newly equipped brain, not knowing for what purpose or to what extent it should be harnessed, without looking back and doing a quick quality check, on whether it was serving the purpose.
The present sapiens needs to take a pause, take a real break, be conscious of his movements, lack of stillness, compulsions to create at all cost, wanting to hoard even more, not addressing his fears, temperaments, confusions and thus pushing the entire world towards the brink of annihilation.
So, its not the money he is after, nor the fame or the power, success, or whatever title the sapiens gives, its fundamentally the unawareness about himself, his compulsive behavior which replicates his earliest ancestors, who lived in a different time, different circumstances, without the knowhow of how to survive, which the current species, after all these years of inherited knowledge, need not be bothered with. But, he behaves the same way, unwilling to admit his erroneous, or more aptly his ignorant ways of behaving, not wanting to take a pause, organize better in his head, and actually come to terms with the fact, he needs to invest much more in learning how to operate the faculty he’s been blessed with, his mind, which currently has become his curse.
If he doesn’t do so, the future of his species, and all others too, is in total jeopardy, and for some strange reason, if the planet doesn’t explode, including the alternate Planet Hollywood, the next generation of his species will be even more dangerous, destructive, unaware, existentially irrelevant, while seriously soaring the Sapiens Moronic Index (SMI) to greater heights than the combined Dow Jones Industrial and S&P 500 indices.
Its time for us to STOP, reevaluate, admit our ignorance, create beauty, smell fragrance, slip into nature, be more elemental than mental, and make the dream of our long gone ancestors true, where we can finally say, we know, how to relax, live in harmony amongst communities, respect every species and understand the ecosystem works for us, only if we are aligned to its ways, not the other way around.
PS: Many ideas in this post came after the reading the amazing book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari: 👉 https://www.amazon.in/Sapiens-Yuval-Noah-Harari/dp/0099590085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521911384&sr=8-1&keywords=sapiens+a+brief+history+of+humankind+by+noah+yuval+harari