Thursday, 30 January 2014

What Matters More Than Money?

Some experiences bring greater joy than the luxury of having all the money in the world. That was the main lesson I learnt in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, a movie whose release date coincided with the Christmas Day of 2011.

A former course mate, Sewa, once opined right in front of Micom Laboratory at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology that we were all in school because we wanted to have money. It was a statement that I quickly challenged because I believe wisdom is better than money. “Sewa, I do not concur with you.” I said. “Some of us are not here because we want to have money. We are here because we want to acquire universally respected knowledge and build up wisdom through the application of such knowledge.” But Sewa explained that it was because our parents or sponsors were financially capable that we could pay tuition fees. And wasn’t Sewa right? Was it not because someone was responsible for our fees that we were in school? What can you actually do today without the defence of money? Can you get quality education or acquire relevant skills without giving something in return? Perhaps, Sewa was right in a way but wrong in another.

He was right because it is true that most people go to the university because they want to get a good job or build a great career after school. Again, the intention of getting a job is to have a means of livelihood. Now, a means of livelihood is nothing other than a source of income or what a person does to add value to the society and receive cash equivalence in return. Though it is not all those that go to school that eventually get to have money (depending of what “having money” means to each person), it is true that level of income generally tends to vary with level of education or valuable knowledge. Therefore, it is true that people actually go to school because they want to have money.

On the other hand, Sewa was wrong because he generalised. First, some people just went to school because everyone in their family was educated. For them, it was just the usual thing to do lest they become odd in their family. Second, it is not everyone that did not go to school that lacks money. Many half-educated persons have proven that skill acquisition or possession of valuable information may be more important than university knowledge. Third, if a person’s hope for getting university education is money, then the frustration of widespread unemployment could make them commit suicide after school. People have committed suicide because they could not get a job; whereas the essence of life is not to get a job but to add value.

Yet, there are other factors such as government’s decision, favourable or likable personality, inherent gifts, uncommon family or parental support, divine intervention, geographical location and technology of the day, which truly influence each person’s ability to find and use opportunities that would influence their socio-economic status.

Therefore, the point here is to understand that though education is important in the 21st century, it is equally important to possess the skills that are required and valued in societal systems. Then maybe the most important thing would be to find what you can do with your own existence on earth and discover how it relates to other people. Then, try to add value to the society from that angle as much as possible. It may involve making all the money you can make and it may not. But the supreme sign of knowing that you are doing the most important thing is a deep-rooted feeling of fulfilment in your heart; the kind that would remain even if you were brought into your last day on earth.

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