There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, …..plundering…conquered neighbours. This is robbery. The second by commerce, this is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favour, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry. — Benjamin Franklin
We live in a grand delusion. A feeding frenzy predicated on a gradually increasing and all engulfing desire. A circle that begins with desire, moves to consumption, then satisfaction and ultimately to a new desire. If this cycle extends to infinity, the future looks bleak unless we sow the seeds of living for a higher purpose — a life devoted to the servitude and emancipation of other human beings. It is a lofty ideal because it is almost impossible to live for others. Also, it is easier to write words on a piece of paper and then not have the deeds follow where the trail of words left off.
But, if we live by instinct alone, we are no different than lesser organisms. Think about a farmer who sows the seeds in the fertile soil and labors to give life to a grain. He doesn’t know whose stomach the grain is intended to fill but he does know that another human being will live better because he has toiled.
In this age of technology and industrialization, we seem to have forgotten the humble farmer. This article reiterates the importance of sowing seeds of altruism when the human mind is most fertile to new ideas i.e. in childhood. Also, if we exploit the fields too much, there is a risk that they will be barren forever. In other words, if we direct all our energies to the pursuit of money and material well being, we leave our souls barren.
Finance is not a zero sum game. It can be inclusive and not speculative. When we look at advances in financial technology, the end goal should be servitude and not the pursuit of yield. If all we read in the media are the fortunes lost and made on Bitcoins, perhaps it is time we ask a different question: are we sowing the seeds of a dark future or are we leaving our minds barren to empathy?
Sow Spirituality In Children
As a young boy, I received a spiritual and scientific education. As a man of science, I question everything but when it comes to helping people, I leave logic at the door. Perhaps, it is a foolish philosophy. Nonetheless, it is a legacy of a childhood spent rejecting human divisions of race, ethnicity, skin color or of any other kind.
Based on my little and perhaps insignificant experience, the fertilizer of an an education in humanity must be applied when the human mind is most open for cultivation.
An Impressionable Mind
As a young employee in a consulting firm, I wanted to change the world. I consider myself an ordinary human because my dream is shared by many.
The difference, I believe, is my definition of changing the world. It was to spread happiness one person at a time. Not money, but contentment.
I was deputed to a Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company that manufactured and distributed fertilizer throughout the country using third party warehouses. My work taught me the importance of accounting inventory. More importantly, it brought me to down to earth. As I visited farmers who utilized the company’s fertilizer, I was left with a feeling of admiration for agriculture and its role in feeding human beings. The farmer became a beacon of hope and a symbol of altruism.
At the basest level, the farmer shares a relationship with nature that very few do. He knows the harshness of the sun and the unforgiving unpredictability of nature. Yet, he goes on hoping that his penance on the farm will compel a change of heart in an invisible force.
Erosion of Empathy
As I read the morning newspaper on my tablet, I cannot help but feel dejected at the issues we consider important. It is hard to find stories of hope, of human triumph and of positivity. I am not saying what we read is futile but that it should be balanced with anecdotes of people across the world sowing seeds of happiness. Of course, we conflate happiness with material comforts. I don’t blame anyone. I have tried hard to break away from being a symbol of consumerism. However, I have also not given up.
Technology As a Means To Happiness
If Artificial Intelligence is used to enhance shareholder return, it is not surprising that money will be the rootof inequity.
If Blockchains are used to enrich and embolden anarchy, it will be a tremendous waste of resources.
If FinTech does not deliver financial inclusion, it will remain a disruptive force in more ways than one.
Keeping society at the center of any evolution will result in longer term growth. Else, after a successful crop season, farms will be barren again.
The Journey Continues
My journey towards a life spent living for others is my experiment with agriculture. An agriculture of a different kind — sowing seeds of hope in a fertile mind and then waiting for nature to take over. Amidst a lot of failures, I continue my tryst with nature.
To every artist, engineer, designer, scientist and any other agent of change, every creation of yours should feed hope to the masses and not enrich the lives of a few with material comforts.
Today, more than ever, true liberation is rising above historic divides and planting grains that will feed the future generations. In that sense, everyone should be a proud farmer.