Freedom: Let's Talk About Money

by 10:05 PM 0 comments
It's Passover, so I thought that I would do some writing about what one can eat that's both Kosher for Passover and vegan. Then I realized a lot of people have already done that, so I figured I could write about the meaning of freedom instead. A modest undertaking!

When I started to think about what I associate with the word "freedom," the first thing I thought of was the Chase Freedom Card. Which brings me to money.

I think the reason this card is called the Freedom card is that you get to choose your rewards. If I had a time machine, I would love to run this by Frederick Douglass and hear his thoughts on this. "It's called 'freedom' because you get to allocate the points as you see fit within several different categories...Seems like a legit use of the word, right?"

When I was a Sophomore in college, I had a job at the Gap in the Mall of America. I remember one Sunday night in particular I was driving back to my dorm room after a deadeningly long and uneventful shift. It was a Minnesota winter, and I didn't want to go home any more than I wanted to be at work. I didn't want to go to class, or answer emails, or buy groceries, or do anything at all that involved being myself. At that time I had saved up about $500 in my bank account, which seemed like millions to me. I drove around the highways of the twin cities with no music for about two hours, thinking that actually I didn't have to go back to school. I could drive to a lousy motel and stay for a week, without my phone or my computer or my books. I could get food when I wanted it, and I wouldn't have to talk to anyone I didn't want to about anything I didn't want to talk about. When I finally returned to Macalester a few hours later, I felt like I was doing it by choice, and that made me feel much better about my situation. 

Money won't make you free, but you can't be free without it. Notwithstanding ascetics with extraordinary mental power over their physical experience. Even spare-changers sleeping on park benches aren't really free, at the bottom of society their only statement is printed on a cardboard sign, and the sign says whatever generates the most money, which is all about pleasing potential givers. 

Want to quit your job? Fine, if you have money in the bank, or you make enough that you can survive on unemployment. Want a divorce? You'll have to live off your own paycheck. Want to eat/drink/wear whatever you want? Different things cost different amounts of money, but with the right amount you can have what you want from any store. Money allows choice, and more money allows for more choices. 

I do think that past a certain point it's all vanity. There may be a slight difference in quality between the Repetto flats and the Chanel flats, but mostly Chanel flats broadcast the statement that the owner can afford to spend $500 on shoes. But when Amir and I decided to move out of our old rat-infested, leaky-roofed apartment, I couldn't have been more glad for the freedom that money gave us to do so. That place was making us miserable, so in some cases money can buy happiness. 

So on this Passover, I want to express gratitude that I'm not enslaved in the Moses & Egypt or 12 Years a Slave sense, but also that I'm not enslaved by poverty. I don't have to live in a tiny apartment, or work a job that I hate, or keep the air conditioning off to save money, or pinch pennies at the grocery store. And driving down the highway, I still feel free. Nothing can compare to the satisfaction of actively choosing the life that I live every day. 

Marina Gafni

Marina Gafni is a 28-year-old speech pathology student. She lives with her husband in San Jose, CA.

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