The green of stress and greed

The green of stress and greed

By Melissa Martin - Contributing columnist

Money. Cash. Green stuff. Why is U.S. currency green? Who decided on the classic green hue?

According to an online article by the History Channel, the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving selected the green color because the ink was plentiful and resistant to chemical changes; and green symbolizes stability, life, and growth.

But, green is also acquainted with jealous—the green-eyed monster. The jealousy of the Jones’ and trying to keep up is how the story goes. Some define success as the amount of green they have. “Too many people spend money they earned…to buy things they don’t want…to impress people that they don’t like.” –Will Rogers

TV celebrities, sports giants, and rock stars chase the green. Millionaires, billionaires, and beyond. While the rich stack it—the poor desire it.

In the twenty-first century, we need money to survive to buy things we need: water, food, shelter, clothing, heating and cooling sources. Back-in-the-day bartering is no longer feasible. And we need money for health, house, vehicle insurance. What if we get sick? What if our house burns down? What is we wreck our car?

Why are humans preoccupied with money? We stash the green in cans in the backyard; slap it in Swiss banks; diversify in gold, silver. Counterfeiting is big business. Collecting coins is big business. Gambling is big business: lottery, horse-racing, poker, sweepstakes, raffles, sports betting, and other games of chance.

We give green as gifts for birthdays, holidays, graduations, weddings. We carry it around in pockets, purses, and wallets.

The Bible says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Notice it doesn’t lament that money is iniquity, but the love of money is the culprit. Our attitude toward money is the problem, not the money itself. Money is neutral. Opportunity travels with money—it’s how you use the green. Do you spend wisely? Donate to charity? Tithe to your place of worship?

But it’s not the green paper that many live for, kill for, and die for—it’s what the green can buy; the power it can wield; the control it can attain. Bank robbers chance death and prison for the green payoff. Gangs kill for turf to sell drugs. Drug cartels ravage and rage. Wars are often fought over real estate. “Money often costs too much.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life insurance policies precede murder. People lie, cheat, and steal for the green—as if a magnetic or hypnotic trance pulls them in.

The workaholics that work for more-more-more money take the chance of losing family and friends along with physical, emotional, spiritual health. “A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.” –Jonathan Swift

From credit card junkies to shopaholics, the thrill of spending money fires up dopamine, a pleasure chemical in the brain. Malls are magnets for consuming. “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” –James W. Frick

Going in debt for the green produces stress, strife, and struggle; sleepless nights and anxious days; and conflict in relationships. Worry, hurry, scurry—to find more money before a check bounces and a credit score dives. Headaches, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. Suicide was one result of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, as men hurdled themselves out windows.

How do we jump off the green greed train? How do we find our way out of the “I want it now because I deserve it” maze of instant gratification? How does a nation with a history of consuming simplify and downsize?

Laird Hamilton stated, “Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.” Change begins with changing how we think about money and what the green means to us. Needs vs. wants. Selfishness vs. selflessness. Humility vs. ego.

Awareness begins today.
The green of stress and greed

By Melissa Martin

Contributing columnist

Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in Southern Ohio.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in Southern Ohio.