Reevaluating ‘money’

Men are social animals,but the difference between men and animals is that we are given the brain to think.

When Greece went bankrupt, instead of going to the streets and protest about it, they turn to each other and create their own market to exchange with each other what they can give. Even in Malaysia, there are free market who have started doing so whereby anyone can come and take whatever the people at the market offers for Free.

In Japan, there are Kippu Fureai, whereby volunteers exchange their time to take care of the elders. Though as time goes, there were more elder people to take care of than the people who could volunteer their time.

In Curitiba Brazil, the town exchanged their waste in exchange of bus ticket , some are also exchangeable to fruits & vegetable. The success of it have made the city became the most sustainably living city. The creativity of the mayor, and its predeccessors have allowed them to create so many ways to sustain themselves without needing funding from the state government.

In ireland, there are also Lets which is Local Exchange Trading System whereby farmers exchange their goods with each other. In Us, Canada, and many other community in countries around the world, use Time Bank to exchange their service in exchange with their time. For example, one hour of your time using whatever skill or expertise you have are exchangeable to an hour of the skills and expertise of another that you want to exchange with.

In Indonesia, and even in Malaysia, we also have shops that accepts gold or silver coin as part of the payment system. Though its not widely accepted yet, but it was one of the way in not relying on paper money solely as medium of exchange.

However, it still struggles its ways in sustaining themselves but it does in a way allow us to reevaluate money as ‘value’ and not the number. We now refer things we produce or buy things according to the number on the price tag when we used to bargain what we buy or sell without a tag.

Then, we started using gold and silver coins before we are forced to use democracy and whatever it entails in exchange for independence. Hence, we had to use paper money and relied on one country as the international standard, when in reality, the Dollar itself have devalued more than more than 100% since its printed. And expected to devalue by 33% by 2032 (Forbes)

So what is ‘money’?

Money is whatever we consider it valuable, it is the ‘currency’ that is tied to the legal tender that a goverment enforce to be used as money. It is only acceptable within the country that is using it, as long as the confidence towards the currency still exist. If not, then thats what happened to Zimbabwe in 2009 when its Zimbabwe Dollar devalued, 3 eggs cost $100 Billion Dollar. Or Indonesia Rupiah when the Asian financial crisis hit us and IMF came to ‘save’ their country only to leave it in even more debts from the loans.

We have lost the value of money, when we restrict ourselves to think that money is only in the form of paper money. While paper money does multiplies itself, but it multiplies out of nothing but a promise to pay from the government. It used to be backed by gold, but that is long gone since the Bretton Woods abolishment in 1971. So, we start to live by accumulating piece of paper money day after day, year after year only to receive less value than our forefather used to have. We thought that we are gaining a lot of money by having a lot of numbers in the banks, but thats not what happened.

If you dont understand what i mean by this, just look at how it used to be when we buy things. For example, during our grandparents time, 5cents could buy you a lot of things, during our parents time, $50 could buy us a trolley of groceries, by the time we could afford our own money, we can only buy less than a half basket, sometimes only one item.

As our life relied on money, We have also lost the ability to take care of each other when we used to look out for each other, and care for each others need. We became competitive to be the first to get the latest gadget, the first in class, the most A’s in exam, the best car, and an endless list of things to buy. We became consumers rather than producers.

We no longer grow our own food, or vegetables, rear chickens etc. The quality of food in our life have also reduce, we eat junks, unhealthy foods, eat outside and too busy to cook a proper food. Most of our food are from factory made product, with extra sugar, preservatives and added chemical that we dont know what it contains and its effect to our health. And so begins the most common growing disease ‘obesity’ and the rest of the package.

Malaysians are giving people, ask for donation and we could give so much money in one night. One of the examples was when Fynn Jamal, needed funding for her sins surgery and they collected enough money in one night. Also, we were always the first to give for war effected country like Gaza, Syria etc.

If we notice, since the beggining, men lived in groups and built their community. From there we turn into a bigger community as our population grows. When we start building our institutions, we rely in the institution to take care of us. While it is good for a big community, slowly we lose our sense of community, the bigger community we grow into, the more individualistic, taking care only ourselves.

Houses back then was built by helping each other to build our own house and in even living in long house. Brothers and sisters shared enough resource or money to buy a piece of land to build their house. It is only later when the children grew up, we fight with our own relatives for a piece of land, breaking up families all because of ‘money’.

Families, used to take care of anothers family. Some takes in their relatives children and well off relatives help them to go to school by funding their studies, those who have little children were taken care of their aunts who stays home.

Neighbours used to look out for each other, setting up Rukun Tetangga to protect their kampung from thief and settle their village problems. We would help each other to grow crops, catch fish out at the sea, before the young generation start leaving and moving to the city to work in the offices. When there is weddings, not many kampung now ‘gotong royong’ to help in their neighbours wedding. Back in my grandmothers time, she told me of how, they used to lend their own plates to help with the wedding, bringing chicken or salt, and ingredients from their home to cook together for the wedding. The only time they had meat was during Eid.

We ask why people are depressed? Why our children are not listening to us? Why school children are rude to the teacher and bullies their classmate to death? Why there is no longer respect of privacy when we offer our private life by sharing almost everything in our life via social media? Instead of saving peoples life, we post videos or pictures of people dying in accidents, some even selfies at the graveyard, and whenever there is videos of people behaving badly, we are the first to share the bad than the goodness of people.

We have so much time to blame, complain, and trash everything we can about what the government should do for us but what do we do to give back to the community we are living in? Why dont we come together and find ways in creating a better community that takes care of each other?

In the Caliphate time, its not the government that provides the facilities to the people but the people facilitates themselves by providing their service to the community they live in. Waqaf for example, are not limited to just waqaf-ing your land. When the people need roads, those who can build roads, provided roads. So it can be anything that your skills and expertise are capable of giving for the benefit of your community. Such sense of community existed a long time ago, but forgotten the more developed we became.

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