TED Conversations

Ghina Zand Alhadid

Student of Biochemistry, molecular biology and psychology, Participatory Culture Foundation

TEDCRED 30+

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What Are the Ethics of Spending OUR Money? Are we Dependent on it?

Why isn't education attaining its goals? Why people are not taking care of their health? Why people are not creative enough? Why can't we discover the "next big thing" that will save the world? Why are anxiety levels increasing significantly in the society?... etc.

Or on a personal level, why am I unmotivated? Why am I uncomfortable? Why am I unhappy? Why do I find so much difficulties in life?... etc.

Our answer almost always includes: because of the lack of funding, no enough money.

So we look for ways to gain more money, we almost make it the aim of our lives. In a seminar that was held at my college for researchers, the speaker asked the people present, "Why are you pursuing your career in researching and science?" And almost everyone's answer was to have a better status, a better job, promotions... etc.!

We do own money indeed! We can spend it! BUT do we own the Earth's resources? Is it okay to spend money? On a small scale and a large scale?

I have been thinking for a while about this topic, about the rightness of spending our own money. About consuming the Earth's resources. We all spend money to buy things that we don't need, or things we need but can manage to do all right without them. Do you think we need to have more self regulation? To exert MORE EFFORT to substitute money? To take the TIME to think about alternatives?

Will consuming Earth's resources help us be more creative? Help our children understand better? Help people take care of their health? Is it money what we really need to help people? How much money do we need to make humanity happy?

My point is that I see people thinking that money is the magical thing that if we owned, everything is gonna be all great. It almost became a culture! You want to live better? Own more money!

And I see that we are missing out the point that money is not magical, it equals consuming the earth. Can we OWN the earth and do whatever we want with it? Do we realize what money is? How can we use it then?

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  • Mar 5 2013: I think what you need to realize is that most people want much more than they need. Many people want much more stuff than what they need to live comfortably. Years ago a study asked people how much money they would need to live comfortably. People of all income levels thought they would be happy if they made just about 20% more. I recently saw a documentary in which a couple with income over $200,000 per year could not live within their income. (I would not know what to do with that much.) People are happier when they learn the meaning of enough, and become appreciative of what they have rather than envious of what they lack.

    By American standards my income and economic status is below average. By global standards I am rich. Neither of these comparisons has the slightest meaning to me. I live comfortably, with adequate food, shelter, clothing etc. and suffer no deprivation. I have enough and more than enough. I even have an automatic dishwasher, which makes my life much more pleasant. One of my goals is to simplify my life further by getting rid of stuff that is not needed. Within a year or two I hope to move to a small town where I can live comfortably without an automobile, using my legs and feet as my primary means of locomotion. Perhaps a bicycle for longer trips.

    The only thing you can do with money is spend it. Money is not the problem. The problem is spending it wisely.

    I think if we can develop wisdom the resources of the Earth will be enough.
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      Mar 15 2013: Very well said. I think the culture which is shaped by the financially powerful parties are the ones who are benefiting from creating this relative deprivation. By always presenting models for people to follow as social scripts, there is a man made feeling of dissatisfaction.

      What a simple life you are trying to lead there, go for it! Would like to hear from you about your experience!

      And do you have suggestions on how we can develop wisdom? Who is responsible for that?

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