The word ‘economy’ derives from the Greek word ‘economos’ which refers to the care and provisioning of a household.
Money is one of the basic elements of a healthy, functioning household – but it is far from the only one.
A healthy, functional household, neighborhood, community and nation needs much more than money.
In fact, a healthy, functional household, neighborhood, community and nation is much more than money.
Even one’s career, I would hope, would be far more than just money.
Money, in fact, is the ultimate abstraction; we live under a social agreement that these pieces of paper with numbers printed on them have, and presumably hold, a certain value.
But what about those things without number printed on them?
Like children? Or grandchildren? Good friends? Safety? Self-respect? A sense of accomplishment? Wonder? A continuing sense of purpose? Curiosity? Being known, respected and appreciated? A solid sense of belonging? Leaving an honorable legacy?
“When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” – Native American saying.
Yes, we can’t eat money. And we can’t breathe it. It won’t make us safe, and, as much as we might say (or deny) that we love it, we will not find our love returned by money.
Money, by far, is much more the source of anxiety, betrayal, fear and jealousy than of confidence, security and trust.
I’ve often wondered about the saying ‘In God we trust’ on American money; is it there to remind us to trust in God because money is inherently untrustworthy? Is that phrase there to represent some unholy (if not blasphemous) equivalence between God and money?
Jesus did, after all, warn us against ‘serving two masters’ (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13) using, ironically enough, God and money as his example.
Besides being heretical, having money as the center of our lives just isn’t practical.
There is much more to maintaining and keeping a home (or household) than money can literally buy.
Besides the care of family members (and animals) a house itself requires constant time, attention, skill and diligence.
The grounds and landscaping require even more and family members need, require and deserve far more than money could ever provide.
How much does it ‘cost’ to spend time with your child or spouse? Or friend? Or pet? Or garden?
Or even by ourselves, without earbuds, agendas or distractions?
How much does a kind word or generous act ‘cost’?
How much does it ‘cost’ to be a good neighbor?
To even frame these questions this way highlights the absurdity and shallowness of our understanding.
Yes, the economy is important, but if we even begin to imagine that it is the only or first thing that matters, we are in fact being stupid.
Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.
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