Saving for what?
Not very long ago, Louis CK mentioned on a chat show that he doesn’t save money for a rather weird reason: It’s arrogant. When i heard this statement for the first time, i found it outrageous as well as funny. More funny than outrageous, actually, because CK makes even the most benign of human situations sound hilarious. Now, after several months of mulling over that sentence, i’ve come to realize something i couldn’t earlier.
We live in an era where people throw words like future, security, career and savings at whoever is bothering to pay attention. You can’t blame anybody in particular for this ongoing parade of unsubstantiated fear. If you don’t plan today, you’ll be lost tomorrow. If you don’t invest today, you’ll be wasted today. If you don’t nod today, you’ll be jobless tomorrow. If you don’t save today, you’ll regret tomorrow. These are few of the if-then scenarios almost everybody with two marbles of a brain would be familiar with.
Hold on to that thought please.
When you observe a colony of ant and the way they function, you’d think of North Korea. Certain people are directed to do certain things. Soldiers march on, food gatherers leave no grain unturned, storers store at any cost, builders build no matter what and so on. The structure is quite set. As per the laws of nature, none of the ants — unlike in a Disney production — can even hope to break this mould.
Now, take a step back and entertain a atrocious possibility: Don’t we, the ones in the so-called free world, behave a lot like an ant colony?
Yes, it’s preposterous to simulate the presence and influence of a Kim Jong-un in our lives. But what if there is something much more dictatorial amongst us? Remember Adam Smith’s The Invisible Hand? Maybe it is that force in play here which fills us with paranoia of the unknown. As a result, makes us behave in the manner we do. And since money is the language that binds us all, a majority of our moves revolves around it.
The more the merrier? The question is, merrier who? You or money?
When Columbus reached the Caribbean and eventually made way for the so-called New World to be explored, the indigenous people immediately recognized what was going on. The natives fully understand what is meant by enough but the invaders suffered from more. To make matters worse for the explorers, there was no cure in sight.
There still isn’t.
We’ve been following the footsteps of those pre-capitalists who didn’t know the difference between plunder and plight. Whatever they saw, they desired it. We are no different. We’ve got our terms and conditions in place though. As long as there is glamour and dazzle attached to the advertisement, we will forget about the sweatshops and indebted labourers. We live in an antiseptic world where the windows of our cars/cabs are always rolled up lest the world we avoid bares itself to us. We are perfectly alright with consuming meat provided somebody else does the bloody butchering for us. We are the exploiters in jeans, acting all cool, pretending to do no damage to anybody. In all fairness, we are the worst of all hypocrites in human history.
The truth remains the same. For example, if somebody is dying of hunger — close to 30,000 die everyday — we share a common responsibility. We are in this together, whatever the outcome. Similarly, if a farmer commits suicide because he couldn’t pay back his loans, we are collectively responsible. Why? Because we are a part of the system that allows only a few to be the winners and an overwhelmingly majority to be the losers. The wretchedness of our privileges, if you may. If we’ve saved a large chunk of moolah in our banks when we’ve got no immediate use for it, we are only being greedy. The term the salmon papers most nonchalantly bestow upon us is smart. It’s a broad daylight lie. Especially when we know we’re in a position to spare something for those who in dire need. But we won’t because we’ve numbed ourselves to the view outside our windows.
Nasty business, isn’t it? Oh, and reeks of arrogance too!