We’re surrounded by rainbows. They appeared gradually at first, before exploding in a mass of colour across windows, doors and in gardens throughout our communities.
Rainbows represent peace and hope; they remind us, even as we live through this global coronavirus pandemic, that there is light to follow even after such dark times.
For many, however, it’s the gold at the end of the rainbow that represents ultimate happiness.
Tread carefully, though, because gold, in spite of its apparent simplicity, is a mass of contradictions.
“Gold has inspired some of humanity’s greatest achievements and provoked some of its worst crimes,” writes Peter L. Bernstein in his book The Power of Gold.
“People believe that gold is a refuge until it is taken seriously; then it becomes a curse.”
We have a complex and often grotesque obsession with gold, yet ironically, it is wonderfully simple in its essence.
It’s represented by the atomic number 79 and its elemental abbreviation is Au, from the Latin ‘aurum’ meaning ‘shining dawn’.
It is a relatively rare metal with lots of versatility. It is chemically inert and it conducts both heat and electricity. It is extraordinarily dense, yet soft as putty. It is malleable, yet resilient. Gold is imperishable, but unlike other metals, we can build nothing from it.
Gold is the shining embodiment of wealth and love. It’s practical, it’s beautiful and its radiance will last forever.
Gold reflects the universal quest for eternal life and the fascination, obsession and aggression provoked by this unique metal have shaped the destiny of humanity through the ages.
As Bernstein states: “When we use gold to symbolise eternity it elevates people to great dignity; when gold is regarded as life everlasting, it drives people to death.”
There is a finite supply of gold in the world. New deposits are increasingly hard to come by and hard to locate. Gold could become even more expensive, and in turn, drive even more complex obsessions and radical actions, some fuelled by myth and legend, some fuelled by greed.
In a world of change, gold will never cease to be. It will continue to motivate and intoxicate, to haunt and inspire. It’s resilient, as we are, and in tough times – and these are tough times – it’s good to dream.