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Spiritual Economics
by Serge Kahili King

(Copyright Serge Kahili King 1996)

The issue of money is a very important one for people all around the world. Some people want a lot more of it and some people want to get rid of it, but probably most people think of it as a material concern rather than a spiritual one.

Money itself is nothing more than a medium of exchange (that really means a symbol) for goods and services. As such it has been around ever since people decided that bartering pigs and blankets for tools and trinkets was too inconvenient, especially when the guy with the tools or trinkets didn't want pigs or blankets, and wanted cows or crockery instead.

So every human group that has traded extensively with another human group has developed a monetary system, alongside a barter system that is used whenever it works. One of the most widely used monetary systems in ancient times was based on cowrie shells. The people of Yap in Micronesia have three systems: big stone wheels for real estate, shells for marriage, and dollars for beer. Gold has been popular in ancient and modern times because it's useful, durable, pretty and fairly rare. But the value people give to it goes up and down, and so do the monetary systems based on it.

The stuff we use for money may be material, like shells and metal or paper, but what really matters is the value we give to the stuff. And the value is not material at all. It's just an idea in the minds of people. The cowrie shells, paper and coins have very little intrinsic value, and the value of something solid like gold goes up and down as mentioned above.

As a medium of exchange for goods and services, money has to be backed by something valuable. That is, something people perceive as valuable. But it's often forgotten that money must also be backed by people's trust in the source of the money, regardless of the valued backing. You know that banks can fail when people lose confidence in them even if they are full of money. Governments can fail when people lose confidence in them even if they have a lot of material backing. The experience of the Soviet Union is a good recent example.

People can fail, too, when people lose confidence in them or when they lose confidence in themselves, regardless of the value of their goods and services. Likewise, people can succeed when people have extraordinary confidence in them or when they have extraordinary confidence in themselves, also regardless of the value of their good and services.

So the actual value of money as a medium of exchange for material things depends on very immaterial or spiritual things like confidence, trust, faith. And how much money people are willing to give to a person for goods, services or out of the goodness of their hearts depends on those very same spiritual things.

Now this next statement may disappoint somebody, but money only comes from people. It doesn't come from God (except indirectly). It doesn't come from governments: it comes from the people who run them and those who pay taxes. It doesn't come from casinos or lotteries; it comes from the other gamblers who lost. It doesn't come from companies; it comes from people who buy things.

If you want to have more money in your life - for yourself or to help others or for both - then you have to make yourself more valuable in the eyes of other people. It won't be enough to provide valuable goods and services, or to be in the right place at the right time, or even to pick the right numbers.You'll have to be more spiritual than that. You'll have to have more faith, more confidence, in your own value, as a provider or as a person.

Copyright - Aloha International 2001

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