Money Is Life
I’ve never had money as a goal. It’s always been, at best, a way to achieve other ends. So I’ve never been terribly preoccupied with acquiring it, and I’ve never found the objection “this would be costly” to be a great objection to doing what is right/important. Money is just money. It’s people that matter. It’s their lives that matter.
Then I suffered a back injury which took approximately a third of my life. Very quickly, my relationship to money changed. I now had, in the parlance of early 00s tumblr, an allotment of spoons. I could spend those spoons on making money. Or I could spend those spoons on doing other things. But I couldn’t do both.
I always knew, in the abstract, that we trade our lives for money. Out of every week, we only have two full days plus five evenings to ourselves. The daylight portion of five days is fed into the furnace of labor, in exchange for the currency we need to live.
This isn’t a very big deal when you don’t have terribly much else to do, and you have many other hours besides those. When I was in my twenties what the heck was I going to do with those hours anyway? All my peers were out working. I could sit around and play video games, or watch TV?
When you have other things you care deeply about — a family you don’t see, children who are growing up without you, writing that isn’t done, music that isn’t composed, lovers that aren’t caressed — you begin to feel the loss of those hours more. When you suffer an injury and you can no longer both work and pursue other interests at the same time, because after a number of hours Doing Stuff you have to rest and recuperate in a zombie-like state, you begin to resent things that cost you extra money.
When someone says “what, you can’t afford an extra 0.1% sales tax for our schools?” I want to say to them “I want you to understand you are taking my life away from me. I don’t have excess you can skim off anymore. Everything you ask is more of my life that is taken from what I love, and must be shoveled into the labor furnace. Even that 0.1%. Make it worth my life. Earn this.” And no, often times I don’t trust them to do so.
Before my injury, if I would have heard that the NRA didn’t want to cancel their convention in Denver which was scheduled to take place just days after the Columbine massacre because of something as base as money I would have been absolutely outraged. Mind-meltingly mad. A dozen teens were gunned down just a few miles away, and you’re worried about freakin’ dollars?? Get fucked.
But when I actually heard the linked NPR piece I felt weirdly sympathetic. Thousands of people had spent a lot of money on plane tickets and hotel stays to attend the convention. Money that was not refundable at such a late date. A last minute cancellation would be taking the amount of their lives that these people had spent and simply burning it. Deciding to burn that much of your membership’s lives to be respectful of the dead is a hell of a burden. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. It shouldn’t be shrugged off as “that’s just money you heartless fucks.” It isn’t just money. It’s lives. Yes, there are bad effects from not cancelling the convention too. This should be a hard decision. Not something so trivially decided that someone like myself would be justified in mind-melting outrage because it wasn’t immediately conceded.
I don’t know if the NRA made the right decision. But this is now my go-to example used to distinguish whether or not someone has internalized that people sacrifice their lives for money, and therefore monetary costs aren’t trivial.
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