Money as a system and a form of direction has long been present in our collective cultures. There are some cultures that have remained stringent in their maintenance of trade and bartering as primary forms of commerce.
Many Indigenous cultures from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and other parts of Canada have insisted on not placing a great importance on a physical representation of value in the form of currency. Instead, currency such as information and intimacy in the form of who we let into our worlds and what we share with them remains a dominant focus of bonding in these small rural communities.
This has positive as well as negative impacts, like every other procedural and declarative form of knowledge exchange. The differences between declarative and procedural knowledge exchange are that declarative is exactly what it sounds like: declaring that something is happening, or that something is true. The procedural knowledge is exactly how to do that thing, in a step-by-step formation.
Many cultures prize procedural information over declarative information, and vice versa. Many European/Western-focused cultures view declarative information, that is summarization of knowledge, to be of more importance. Other eastern or southern countries value procedural information. I would dare to state that in Northern Canada, procedural information is also of the utmost importance, even trumping declarative knowledge insofar as how to survive in inclement and challenging circumstances.
At the time I wrote this article, I was traveling with my partner in Hawaii, a southern state known for its interesting mix of different cultural ethnicities within the melting-pot that is Americana. Capitalism in the United States has long been appraised to be a dominant factor, often creating disparate sections of society, and little diasporas of poverty within a largely privileged and economically thriving place. We went to a monopoly presentation focused on selling real estate time-shares. Most people have been offered this kind of opportunity when they want to get a discount on a fun tour in the area. While I was observing the sales tactics used by our salesman, I am always keenly aware of the psychological strategies used to manipulate people into putting more money down than they can afford.
The challenge is when we identify so much with profit and money as a reason for doing things that we begin to lose that part of our identity that is unique from the pressures of attaining luxury. The fact is, luxury, privilege and freedom all mean different things to different people.
What is unfortunate is the worship of money as a kind of external and internalized God. In different capitalist cultures, this relationship to physical currency can blindside people from understanding that their connection with humanity is more important. When I attempted to explain this to our sales representatives, I was shut down. And it was as though I was not just rejecting their proposal but also rejecting them as people. Their fast rejection of my points (without really listening), was a poor business move. If they really wanted to sell me a timeshare for $60,000 flat, they should have pretended as though they understood what I was talking about. I mean, it really would have been the least they could do.
Everyone comes to Hawaii for different reasons, and we have encountered many who have ventured into warmer climes due to living in colder climates for long periods of time and struggling in their previous places.
This rings true for those residing in Yellowknife, often from further afield and who are wanting to make a fresh start and contribute to an economy for great reward. What has helped me and supported many people I know, clients, family and friends alike, has been the prioritization of improving others’ lives on its own merit, not to gain a profit or ensure that our stay in the Far North is making the most economic sense. When we can learn just to observe the gains and losses of monetary value, just as we can learn to observe the gains and losses of our life in terms of sickness, friendships, relationships and professional opportunities, we can fully live.
Life is change, and we are in constant flux. Learning how to identify and simply roll with the flow of all the changes that can happen without becoming too attached with what we like or too averse to experiencing what he doesn’t like in life, can enhance our quality of it, no matter how much money we earn every year.
Wishing you good mental health.