About money

Its role in my life and in society
by Judy Pigott

I’m wondering if you, as I, are perplexed and concerned about where all the turmoil around hate and racism and environmental crises and pandemics has come from … where will it go … and what role might I have around it anyway? Recently, Rebecca Crichton wrote a beautiful piece about togetherness. She asked: What would our world look like if we each looked at what we might do Together? Come on, if you’re reading this, you’re probably in the second half of your life. There’s not unlimited time remaining for us to have a vision, be bold, and challenge the status quo. We’ll need courage if we want a world in which all of those following us will thrive.

Hikers have a saying that the group can only really move forward to reach a destination at the pace of the slowest. If we’re all in this world together, then wouldn’t it make sense to see that all had a chance to succeed?!

Of course, we want this for grandchildren — ours or others — but, more broadly, for all the world’s children. After all, we are all one. So, what resources do I, a White, wealthy, educated woman of many privileges, have? I have my mind and can think about ideas, plans, people. I have time, talent, and treasure. I have my time, which can be used in so many ways. I have my talents, honed and expanded, or compressed, over many years. I have my treasure, which may be comprised of the foregoing, and also of whatever money is at my disposal. Mary Oliver asked at the conclusion of one of her beautiful poems, Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

This line of thinking led me to think about money and its role in my life and in society.

MoneyHow much is enough? Pretty subjective. Several years ago, I met a woman on one of Seattle’s ferries. She had been, by all measures, wealthy, and knew that women in her family tended to die very young. So, being about 45, she concluded that she hadn’t many, if any, years left. She then dramatically gave away almost all of her investments, accounts, and physical assets. I met her again when she was approaching 50. She reported being financially broke and in search of some community where she could give of time & talents, without a financial investment. Her spirit was bright, and her step light. I wished her well as she went on her quest.

MoneyDo I want more? – “Society” seems to emphatically say that there can never enough. I, however, say “bull*%#!” – though the woman in the story above had, to my mind, cut it a bit short. Our former US President (#45) has been one of those erring on the other side, where no amount is sufficient. Here are my thoughts: (1) I cannot take it with me!  (2) Accumulating more won’t keep me alive. (3) Once the basics are covered, more won’t make me happier. Numerous research efforts have confirmed that, once I’m securely housed, fed, safe, educated and such, the increased dollars increase burdens more than happiness. What’s the balance for me?

MoneyMight I want more, or less? Why? Everything I acquire requires some degree of maintenance or oversight: whether a car, a pet, a house, or a mutual fund. Do I like complexity or simplicity? Do I want to keep or add a vacation home to “get away from it all”? or do I want to downsize?

MoneyDoes it matter how it came to me? The subject of reparations or return of land or stolen money to Black, Indigenous, or other groups is very much in our public discussion now. I’ve read, watched, and listened – and I’ve concluded that ensuring preferential treatment of those who’ve been disenfranchised is called for. Without feeling guilty, I am responsible for acting in a way that moves toward equity.

Money – Lastly, I see how money flows through many hands, and believe that it is intended to do so. Some hands, however, have not been allowed to hold any. The money that is mine today belonged to someone else. It will belong to another someone else soon. I get to participate now in thinking about how widely it spreads out to nourish this world in which ALL move together, at the pace of the slowest.

And considering all this and more is part of what I choose to do with my own wild and wonderful life!

Judy Pigott is a mom, grandmother, author, activist, educator, and community member, who has lived in nine cities and three countries. She is committed to fostering communities that nurture all participants physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.