Two Sides of a Coin

two sides of a coin

Money is typically defined as anything of value. Money is often used as a means of barter, trade, and for transactions. And so money is not often valued for itself, but for what it can get us. Money, then is useful, but not necessarily valuable. In thinking of this, I realize that there are two sides to every coin.

It seems that much time and effort is spent in trying to become rich in order to buy things that are not necessarily valuable or useful using something that is not necessarily valuable. This seems strangely  a waste (rather than a valuable)  of our time. However, most of us live our lives by this axiom; most of us.

The recent upswing in locavore, organic, self-sustainability and other descriptive ways of living seem to be motivated not by money, but by something far more valuable: happiness. The motivation to turn away from money to “do what’s right”, or to “be more healthy” seems to have its basis in virtue.

Virtue is a philosophical ethical theory founded upon a moral education, which is considered by Aristotle as a good in itself because such a life leads to a higher quality of happiness. Without getting into the philosophy too much, the value of living such a life is found in actually living that life. Money is not valuable in itself. However, living a life of virtue is.

So, one side of the coin seems to be the motivation to be happy, and the other side of the coin seems to be the kind of happiness that matters: the quality of our happiness. Money seems to abide by one side of the coin, but not to the other. Don’t get me wrong; I think that money is a viable tool, a useful means to live comfortably and securely. But I’m not sure that it is the best means.

The current movement towards more viable and sustainable agricultural methods and cultural beliefs is certain to lead to jobs and opportunities that are yet to be seen. But these movements do seem to be good in themselves as well.  We have to be careful. On the one hand, money is a motivator for our dreams, but on the other hand money often undermines the dream itself. Perhaps what we must always remember is that what is useful is often not what is valuable, and what is valuable is not always useful: there are always two sides to a coin.

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