Greed is bad!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word greed as “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.” Most of the major religions in this world indicate greed is bad and will lead to no good. For example, the following are some Bible passages that reference greed:
Prov. 11:6 – “the treacherous are caught by their own greed”
Lk. 12:15 – “be on guard against every form of greed; life is not in possessions”
Proverbs 15:37 He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
(Phillipians 2:3)“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
The following are references to greed that can be found in the Koran:
“Let not those who hoard up that which God has bestowed on them of His bounty think that it is good for them – nay, it will be worse for them. The things that they hoard shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the day of Resurrection. And to God belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth, and God is Aware of everything you do.” (The Holy Qur’an, 3:180)
“God does not love such as are proud and boastful, who hoard their wealth and encourage greed in others, and hide that which God has bestowed on them of His bounty – for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom – nor those who spend their wealth to impress men, but who do not believe in God nor in the Last Day.” (The Holy Qur’an, 4:36-38)
In Buddhism greed is one of the Three Poisons that lead to evil (akusala) and that bind us to suffering (dukkha). It also is one of the Five Hindrances to enlightenment.
In the ancient Hindu epic “The Mahabharata,” Bhishma, son of the holy river Ganges and one of Hinduism’s great yogis, delivers Hinduism’s great treatise on greed, naming it for the faithful as the matrix out of which all other evil arises
- The roots of greed are emotional ones. People want to feel safe, loved, valued, validated, and respected. In different ways, money promises all of those things, even though it often doesn’t deliver.
- We have a culture where greed is not only OK, but encouraged.
- The effects of how we use money are hidden.
- Most of the organizations that handle money in our society are set up to maximize profit.
- Laws and regulations about taxation, corporations, and commerce in some cases make greed the law.
Another question about greed that comes to mind is does greed affect decision making. Obviously the answer is yes, but what about decision making of countries themselves. Do you think countries will jump to action to help another country that has no monetizable assets? Did this happen in Darfur? Did it happen in Ruwanda or Sierra Leone? Is it happening in Somalia? What about our own New Orleans? What are critical factors that encourage counties to join the action? Available oil? What else?
Greed and government officials
Greed also seems to be at the heart of government. We hear stories of counties where government officials steal millions of dollars from the government. This happens all over the world and not just in countries like Nigeria, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. It happens in the United States to, but may be obtained in different form such as kick backs to pet projects. What about the power of lobbyists? Take a look at the farm subsidy programs. How can these “mega farms” get money from the taxes that we pay to subsidize their companies? This is not what subsidies was meant for. Do I have the opportunity to get a subsidy to keep my household operating? It’s time for these things to be changed.
It appears that greed tremendously affects our lawmakers. How about passing laws to limit lobbyists, or penalizing a government official from having a financial connection to a company associated with lobbyists? How about setting some term limits so that government officials can’t embed themselves in political office where they continue to siphon off kick-backs, becoming too cozy, and forgetting their purpose and forgetting the people they are supposed to represent?
I don’t have the answers, but I think greed is something we need to start working on. Even the littlest child is taught to share and that greed is bad. So what happens to us. This all changes as people enter into adult life. My goal is to just get a discussion going. We know what the problem is. Now we need to define the solutions. It is also a good idea that we think about this as we cast our votes for elected officials.