We are motivated by so much more than money.
The first job I ever had in college was taking notes for students whose challenges made it hard for them to do so themselves. As much as people make fun of community college, I’m glad I spent some time there, because it gave me a chance to meet the full spectrum of mankind. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those introductions.
Take even just one example, like the deaf community. They don’t consider themselves disabled, just different. They communicate in the most beautiful way, creating physical poetry, like hula, for even the most mundane of topics. They do not envy us. If anything they pity us, trapped and deluded in our world of sound.
Sometimes I get anxious, thinking that I might get hit by a car or have a stroke and be left paralyzed, fully aware mentally, but trapped behind as little as a single, blinking eye. I see people like Christopher Hills, able to communicate, able to tell his story, as we are all compelled to do, with the help of technology.
The world inspires me to change it. I have as much choice in the matter as Van Gogh had to paint. “The sun compels me to paint,” he screamed, as it marked the inescapable flow of entropy by riding across the sky, unstoppable as the sand of our time spilling through the glass funnel of our lives.
I genuinely worry that at the rate we’re going, we may fall short of that threshold between evolving to the point where we make contact with the rest of the life that’s out there and using up our planet’s resources while destroying ourselves in the process.
I sincerely believe that we may not have 100 years on this planet. We’ve pumped so much CO2 into the atmosphere, we’ve set off a methane cycle that’s going to accelerate global warming and extinct us within three generations. I don’t know if it’s too late to fix, but I do think it’s worth trying. It might at least buy us some time.
Things are changing, and the changes are themselves accelerating. Whatever happens, if we have any chance of fixing it, escaping it, or adapting to it, it’s in getting the smartest people in the world together in one place. I spent a year looking for a place, and I chose the Netherlands. It’s pretty free, not too expensive, and solidly capitalist. It’s easy for Americans to get to, and everyone speaks English.
Once you believe something like this, money no longer becomes a motivating factor. You need enough to live, and enough for your team to live, but that’s about it. The material things that give most people pleasure are behind you, as your survival instinct takes over and you do what humans do: rage against the dying of the light.
I believe these things, and a whole lot of other things I don’t have the math to explain. Therefore I cannot prove them, but they are a model that seems to produce useful results. To me, that is the essential definition of religion.