Money's Role in Our Society
Cultures value a variety of different things based on their beliefs and ways of life. Representation connects these perceived valuable objects with a culture's beliefs. Therefore, representation can be quite important when trying to understand how different cultures lived even if there is no written explanation. Ancient Neolithic cultures represented many beliefs with Mother Earth, just as we do today with money.
In ancient Neolithic culture, Mother Earth was depicted as a statuette of a pregnant woman representing fertility. They would use the statuettes in rituals to “celebrat[e] seasonal regeneration… [and in] fertility cults that [would] insure successful childbirth” (Fiero 4). This shows how these people valued fertility in terms of childbirth but also in growing food. Mother Earth was valued during these times because she was seen as a “life-giver” which was especially important when “survival was fragile” (Fiero 4). Mother Earth was also greatly valued due to the “transition from food gathering to food production, when fertility and agricultural abundance were vital to the life of the community” (Fiero 4). Just as Mother Earth was considered a vital part of ancient Neolithic cultures, I believe that money is considered just as important in our current society. Money represents success, hope, and life in America. In our capitalist society, money is equivalent to success. We are told from a young age that to be successful, we have to do well in school in order to get into a good college and then to a well-paying job. The wealthiest people in the country are considered the most successful. Money also gives people hope in our society. Money provides hope to everyone but especially to those coming from other countries and low-income families. It provides hope that if you work hard enough, you can make a better life for yourself. Money also represents life. Everything we need to survive costs money. Food, shelter, and even water costs money in America. Sometimes it seems like we live to work for money. We wake up every day and go to work to pay for the things we need to survive. Our society is based on money and it represents almost all parts of our lives.
Mother Earth and money have many differences, however, one thing they have in common is how necessary these things are to life in our respective cultures. The two cultures rely on these representations to survive. Ancient Neolithic cultures believed that completing rituals for Mother Earth would bring abundant crops and the survival of newborn children; just as we believe today that having lots of money will provide food on the table and a roof over our heads. However, our beliefs and ways of life are a far cry from one another. Ancient Neolithic cultures were just starting to farm and understand how to do so, so it is no wonder they believed completing rituals to a goddess would help them have more success. They were also unsure about childbirth and looked for an answer to solve the mystery. Today in America, we understand what creates a successful yield when farming and how to limit deaths during childbirth due to advancements in science and medicine so these are not a main cause of concern.
Although life seems simpler in ancient Neolithic cultures, I would prefer to stay in my current American society. People during the Neolithic time period were constantly frightened about whether or not their crops would grow to feed the community or about whether their children would survive childbirth. In America today, money means that we don’t have to worry about starvation and the survival of children during childbirth to the degree of the people who lived in ancient Neolithic cultures. Although Mother Earth and money both represent a vital part in each culture, the priorities and ways of life are very different.
Fiero, Gloria K. Landmarks in Humanities. McGraw Hill Education, 2020.