A recent conversation with my brother about the rat race that plagues the millennial and possibly follows all of us to the end of our lives, or rather our “useful lives”, is the need to use money to create value . This rat race is the imposed societal belief that we must spend around four decades, the useful decades of our lives in which we’re strong, energetic and able enough to work longer hours, more days and sometimes multiple jobs simply to live fulfilling lives. Like hamsters spinning on a wheel we have accepted that working for 40 something years and retiring at 65 is to live a responsible life. I have lived and experienced much of my life in low-income communities, especially as an immigrant, and it’s sometimes easy to fall into the propaganda of the rat race and mistake money as being the root of stability and peace of mind. These urges, however, are a deception, a societal fallacy: Money isn’t value.
Value is Value. Value is the only true currency. Value buys things that money can’t buy. Capitalism simplified, suggests that money is value and the only indicator thereof. It’s as if we’ve embraced that the more money one has the more value one has and can experience. These are simply illusions, mirages, fantasies that capitalism must encourage in order to continue as it is. Money isn’t the all knowing omnipotent indicator and measure of value. Humanity is value. Ubuntu ( how to be human) is value. Life is value, rich experiences are value. The countless things that no amount of money can buy. That is true value.
We must realize not too late that value, being the ultimate currency, can be converted into money. Value doesn’t depreciate like all other currencies do. The value of being human and humane is timeless. Value is a safer investment. Chasing after money in and of itself doesn’t necessarily create value. Our humanity creates value. Our experiences. Our friendships, relationships, our characters, personalities, empathy for one other — ubuntu. This is value at it’s truest, it’s the only meaningful true currency.
With that said if ever faced with the choice to work more hours and miss a value adding interest you have — don’t do it. If ever faced with the choice to miss an important family occasion or something that will strengthen your personal relationships, your spiritual path in order to make significantly more money don’t do it. When faced with choosing between money or value choose value. By staying true to oneself and developing one’s humanity and treasuring the people and experiences that create value in one’s life can one only gain and create value. By being decent human beings towards each other, following wherever our interests and hearts lead can we attain real value and meaningful lives.
As a society we must get into the habit of pursuing things that truly bring us value — things that maximize our humanity and brings out the best in us. Money shouldn’t be the first and greatest consideration for money often comes as a byproduct of value.
One may never know when the book read, trip taken, the time volunteered, the new language learned maybe that one thing that gets one the job of a lifetime, a business lead, or the becomes the convenient ice breaker that introduces one to some of the best people and opportunity.
In Zulu it’s therefore said “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”: A person is a person by others. This is precept in UBUNTU. It’s in our humanity and how we experience this life, and seek to maximize our shared humanity that we create value for ourselves and for others.