Why Risk It?
For thousands of years, human beings have exchanged money and goods primarily with people in their village or region-that is, with people they know. Suddenly, in the late 20th century, commerce has become depersonalized. Our cash comes from automated teller machines; financial transactions are electronically blipped around the world. Not only are we disconnected from those who produce our goods, but catalogues and TV shopping let us purchase goods with little or no human interaction.
People talk about money all the time, but usually in a general or impersonal way-complaining about costs, quoting the Dow Jones, dividing the restaurant tab. Friends almost never discuss what they think and feel about the financial differences between them. Talking personally and vulnerably about money can be awkward and uncomfortable even among people with similar means, and downright threatening for people with substantial money differences between them.
What might happen if we all became competent and comfortable-perhaps even adventurous-dealing with money between us and our friends? At the very least, those of us with surplus might use it more often and more successfully to help the people we love. Perhaps it would also become less awkward to form friendships with people who have far more or far less than ourselves. Then our circles of community might widen to include those from whom we are usually separated because of socio-economic class and financial differences.
Building friendships across class lines would bring the injustice of our economic system smack into our lives, perhaps deepening our commitment to working towards a more equitable economics.
What if we even stepped out of the depersonalization of commerce, by building friendships with the people we do business with, and by doing business with our friends? Perhaps we would begin to view money less as a necessary evil, and more as a potentially nurturing force in relationships-a vehicle to help nourish our community.
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