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What is your perspective on the meaning of money?

What is your perspective on the meaning of money?

From time immemorial, since man’s first ancestral klutz made the mistake of falling out of the tree and started getting kicked around by alpha predators, deeply learned philosophers, hermetic Tibetan monks and guys who have had a few too many drinks on their own have pondered one question: what is the meaning of life?

The closest we have come to an answer is ‘42’, posited by Douglas Adams in his seminal work, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, and the vastly inferior movie based on the book. Unfortunately, as Adams notes, that answer is not worth much unless we have the phrasing of the question.

Of course none of this is actually worth a toss. Everyone has been delving too deep for the answer. In fact, a very superficial glimpse at the problem yields a very obvious answer that is all the more remarkable given the fact that it can be reached without relocating to the Himalayas, spending years getting an advanced degree in theology or getting drunk.

Personally I hope it wins me a Nobel Prize. I could do with the money. On the other hand, Nobel Prizes are handed out for achievements that take years, decades and lifetimes, not for superficial ideas that come in an inspirational moment of pessimism, so I probably won’t be able to sit back and reflect on my achievement once this column has been written. I’ll just have to get back to work.

The answer to the meaning of life is ‘money’. It’s as simple, and as brilliant as that. If you think about it for a little while, you will realize just how apt the answer is and you can stop reading now. If you are lazy, or don’t have anything better to do, you can carry on reading and I will explain why.

Still with me? Good.

‘The meaning of life’ is a vast generalization, so it has to be so general that it affects and interests everyone. It could be ‘sex’ for instance, but that doesn’t fit everyone. You get geriatrics and the occasional interesting person for whom sex holds no appeal. It could be breathing, but do we really think about that consciously? Anyway, a few minutes after ceasing to breath, the ex-breather loses interest in the topic.

As ‘the meaning of life’ is something overridingly important, it has to be universally valuable to everyone. It can’t be honesty or dishonesty or any of the virtues because everyone has a different opinion on these and the idea of what is virtuous changes with time. If it is not a characteristic, it must be something material. In this regard everyone wants something, but that something differs from person to person.

Herein lies the clue. Everyone ‘wants’ something. In a nutshell, the meaning of life is probably something that satisfies a ‘want’, in other words money.

In order to verify the idea that ‘money’ is the meaning of life, it is worth considering the value that it holds.

The idea that money can’t buy happiness is a bit of a fallacy, as most poor people will tell you. In reality, it is impossible to subsist or concentrate on an emotion such as love or joy if you don’t have enough money to eat. In the absence of money, be it you own or someone else’s, happiness ceases altogether.

What of hunter gatherers, I hear you ask, brave reader. In fact that which the person hunts or gathers is very similar to money: a commodity such as meat or ground nuts that can be consumed, given to a member of the group who is less able, such as a child or an elder, or exchanged for something useful.

So more correctly put, the meaning of life is to get money and use it.

Some of our wealthier readers may be saying that money isn’t everything. To them, I say, get my banking details from the editor and put that theory to the test by giving all of your money to me. I will keep it in escrow for you and repay the amount when you concede the point. Just don’t ask any silly questions about the interest.

Some of you may believe that this is shamefully selfish, but consider this: you must have something to be able to give. It really is true. Money makes the world go round.

About The Author

Pierre Maré

Pierre Maré is a multi-awarded Namibian advertising strategist and copy writer. From 2004 to 2016 he wrote a weekly tongue-in-cheek column for the Namibia Economist, eventually amassing an impressive 590 articles over the almost 12-year period. This series of Offbeat is a digital rerun of his pieces that received the highest reader acclaim. - Ed.