Dr. Mian Mehboob questions if the urge to acquire more and more wealth is necessary
“DIL MANGE MORE”: All I Need is Everything
Money is important. Without it one cannot live as the things other than the air and water, somewhat freely available- at least for the time being, are but to be procured. That is why I wish this write up not attracting the attention of those who are struggling to ensure a semblance of Roti, Kapda aur Makan for their survival. I am interested in interacting with those who are engaged in the hard or thoughtless race for amassing money, fair or foul. I confess I belong to this class of the humans and I trust that most of us have a very vague justification for what we are doing.
My tryst with money ‘the maal’ has been an eye- opener. It has been disgusting, to say the least. I, during the days of my total dependence for money on my father would manage to spend, at least symbolically—by debit to my meagre pocket money, on the purchase of some news papers and sports and film magazines. Once I started earning myself, I, perhaps under a freshly dawned realisation for the value of money, virtually sculled the expenditure and started looking for free of cost offers such as the public libraries, institutional reading rooms and other charitable means on offer. I thus concluded that exposure of the youth to an early and premature self earning is fraught with risk and that makes it desirable to debate whether children should be exposed to self earning at the age of their formative years or not. This definitely weakens the focus of the youth on their studies and personality development. Most of the city dwellers (who have a better chance of earning) shall perhaps easily agree to this argument.
I am (oops I was) a poet. I would compose poems purely with an intense desire to release the sentimental pressure generated by the sweet and sour happenings and experiences occurring around me. Somebody led me to a government managed concern having been assigned the duty of promoting the ‘art, culture and languages’ of my part of the earth. Initially, under a fascination to reach out to some audience, I began to participate in the duly paid “poetry recital congregations’ of the government organization. Ultimately I became a contractual poet and would, wily nily, compose poems with the primary purpose of selling them through this forum. Incidentally, although not necessarily as a part of this write_ up, I would have also liked to say that I found very big local names of literature there primarily concerned about duly, uniquely (as they were not like their ordinary co-participants) and suitably paid for their often repeated presentations. I was saying that I became a contractual poetry composer and ultimately lost the art of mapping imagination and personifying fantasies.
This perhaps is the major risk of thinking in terms of money. I am sure that our great ancestors wrote all their masterpieces with the sole motive of either a service to humanity or the proverbial lightening of their souls and hearts. Most of us have been since then reaping the input of their hard work by venturing in the task of cutting materials from their works and pasting them under our own banner names or, more ethically, by indulging in the exercise of annotating, appreciating and explaining their thoughts. I have come to realise that the arena of our intellectual activity— writing books, religious oratory, literary conferences, seminars— is primarily driven by the force of money and an urge for bonus buck making just as in any other business— brokering, commission earning, marketing of sub standard merchandises, promoting and advertising newly launched products and professionally participating in political rallies under a mechanism of payment terms.
But why do people wish to possess lots of money? Take a few of the justifications. One of my friends once said that money was very important and he wanted to have a lot of it more so because he wanted to go around the world.. To this another friend quipped that that was neither possible nor desirable as Myanmar, Israel and the tribal controlled areas shall be out of bonds and more importantly there were better things to be done during a short span of life than exhausting oneself on long journeys and travels. Some believe that lot of money needs to be saved for future eventualities such as major ailments. To this others say that when future is prone to prediction why not predict it in very positive and optimistic terms and hope for the very best.
A Canadian Sikh millionaire had a better idea. As per a BBC report the millionaire gave away all his hard made assets in charity at an advanced stage of his life just to find out if he could rebuilt a new fortune during the remaining years of his life and once again give it away in charity. Fare enough perception, although, seriously debateable.
However, some others have an inexplicable urge for expanding their cash reserves. This is just like a causeless thirst. One of my elderly uncles, for example, would argue differently in support of the money he had amassed virtually at the cost of denying a semblance of comfortable living to himself and his family. He said that the very sight of his currency notes –which he preferred to term as bloody bitches – and counting them filled him with an enormous sense of pride and pleasure.. The crude argument of my uncle seems to represent the better drafted and gracefully documented perception of money of the modern capitalists also.
Alright, there might be other valid reasons for people who either honestly toil or brazenly manoeuvre and manipulate conditions for expanding their wealth empires. Individuals and institutions have been found burning their bodies and bloods in the pursuit of achieving their growth and expansion. Logic- they wish to be counted and to be the leaders. They are obsessed with the longing of seeing huge bank balances in all the banks of any name. Good: but who guarantees the fruit of whatever right or wrong means they are employing?
For the last few days my thoughts go again and again to the ill fated rich people of Haiti who lost their lives as well as those of their kith and kin. Their cash at home, their vast business assets, their bank balances, provident funds, mutual funds, fixed deposit certificates, ready to mature insurance policies, debentures and shares must be unclaimed in the face of the devastation of the claimants as well as the managers.
Money is important indeed. It is needed for building houses, marrying off ones sons, daughters, brothers and sisters for some and for others it is needed for insuring of their expensive cars, mortal hairs, imported dogs and above all ensuring a luxurious life style.
All these seem to be self-imposed curbs and voluntarily worn hand-cuffs. Rich people designed easy ways of spending and deflating their abundantly fattened cash reserves and most of us wished to emulate although without the affording capacity. Unfortunately it became a norm and led us to the reckless ways of making money. This ‘man-assigned’ importance to money is the main cause of people going mad and indulging in corrupt practices, elbow pushing and encroaching upon other’s genuine interests.
Now, also see the extent of man’s foolishness. Although there is no guarantee for him to enjoy even the genuinely earned wealth still he, quite foolishly, indulges in wrong practices for making some surplus bucks perhaps with a view to contribute, for example, in keeping the marriages and building of houses, a costly and lavish affair. How the great majority of middle class agrees to dance to the tune of the small minority of extra moneyed people is in itself a haunting and mysterious question.
So I have but to doubt if any one of us is clear as to why he or she wants to have a lot of money. As the last example let us talk of a comparatively more enlightened class of the society –the professors having retired from the active service and indulging in the hard toil of giving dawn to dusk tuitions at the various tuck shops of learning. Some of them, quite like me, also cherish the arrival of the “evaluation season” to grab the opportunity of evaluating, at a lightening pace, as many as answer scripts as could be offered by the in-charge official of the evaluation centre. Both I and they do this despite of having handsome and enviable sources of an assured income perhaps only to join the mad rush of making some bonus but utterly un-wanted money albeit at the cost of exhausting our bodies and compromising our dignity. The only motive seems to leave big money for our progeny (to fight out its inheritance in legal courts) and thus deprive them of the daily tonic of struggle and hard work that is so very crucial for a happy and purposeful life.
Bill Gates, I have heard, does not like to rob his children of the wonderful gift of self earning through hard work. Also enviable are those graceful ‘greats’ belonging to the set of my counterparts who resist the temptation of making bonus and un-needed money and prefer to enjoy their time with their children. A sincere and respectful salute is always due to them. Nevertheless, some can argue that the love of, at least, some people for money is important as it alone makes them work hard even on behalf of others. This human instinct is the virtual drive engine of human existence. If there are no lovers for money the system of human life shall come to a grinding halt. Anyway, this totally is a different subject.
Lot of money might be very important for governments and institutions. To the individuals it is not. Money, more than anything else, actually gives its owner a sense of pride and joy when he sits to count his currency notes. My uncle seems to have had a pragmatic assessment of the importance of money. God also lamented the stupidity of Man when He said about him “……that who amasses his riches and goes on counting them (under a wrong assumption) that these shall permanently accompany him is destined to enter the hell.” And amassing riches even through corrupt practice, I believe, is nothing but an advanced stage of stupidity.