“Food’s worth more than gold.”
– Bronn, Game of Thrones
Season 2, Episode 8, “The Prince of Winterfell”
Bronn says this as he explaining to his superiors why he and his men rounded up all the known thieves of the city. He knows that a city under siege is a city that gets hungry, and he wanted to prevent the city’s thieves from stealing all the food for themselves, and for the fortunes that others would pay them for it – diamonds in exchange for potatoes – while the poor starved and ate each other. That’s the contextual meaning of this, but it touches something much more profound.
The value of food and water is found in the life it sustains. The value of a house is found in the shelter and comfort it provides. The value of plumbing is found in the water it delivers. The value of a sewage system is found in cleanliness, hygiene, and the prevention of various terrible illnesses. Indeed, the value of almost everything is found in what it can do for a person.
The value of money is found in how much of everything else it can be exchanged for.
People covet it so much, but what they grasp for so hard is only worth anything when they let go of it. Money alone, on its own, is perfectly and completely worthless.
I’ll always remember a scene from One Piece, where two people are trapped on a small island with no food. They have a pile of gold and jewels, but all that is utterly worthless in the face of their starvation.
A man with money and nothing else will soon starve, while a man with food and nothing else may survive and even get fat. And who will other hungry people do business with first? Which of them has the truly greater wealth?