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Philosophications

Greed

“It is an undeniable fact that humans by nature are greedy. We just need to control/direct our greed in the right and wisest way possible.”

Now, this was something I tweeted a few days ago or so after doing a little more research on my “A Brief History Lesson” post as well as musing on our ever-so-quick decline into the crapper from our “Debt-Ceiling Crisis.”  All tangents aside, though, what exactly is greed?  Dictionary.com defines it as:

“Excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.”

I won’t delve too deep into what each word means, but it is clear that each one can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways depending upon your perspective, specifically “wealth,” and “possessions.”  Up until a few years ago, I had always believed almost to my core that greed is a bad thing.  If we take a look at history, we can see how humans have caused immeasurable amounts of suffering towards one another based upon our selfish desires on both a micro and macro level.  From differences in political and religious ideals to economic and resource-based motives, it is very clear how an over-ravenous desire to fulfill selfish cravings is detrimental to the human civilization. What’s even worse is that greed is typically compounded and enforced by emotions such as fear, paranoia, pessimism, and ideas such as racism.  With all this information readily available both in books and the internet this day and age, it doesn’t take much to put two and two together to realize that our lust for power and greed for economic dominance and self-gratification are all causing so-called “interventions,” occupations, and wars around the world.

My high school mentor, a US history and economics teacher (who instead of focusing on dates and people in history, placed a greater emphasis on analyzing history itself, specifically the “how” and “why” factors), also shared the same ideas we had in that greed is a bad thing.  One day, however, as he was well noted for, he offered a different perspective on greed with Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is Good” speech from the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

“Greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind…”

So when Gekko articulated how greed is actually good and has benefited mankind, to a certain extent his words have truth.  Think about it: without greed, we wouldn’t have had any desire to further advance as individuals or as a whole.  Without greed, we wouldn’t have invested time and resources into searching for ways to make processes and tasks in life quicker, more efficient, and more consistent.  In a sense, greed is a driving force for innovation, and innovation is something that we always need, because as time progresses and brings about change, it is important to not only adapt to these progressions and changes, but also to, if possible, stay ahead of the game, so to say.

In this day and age, however, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the causes and effects/consequences of greed, and exercise proper discretion and control when embarking upon our ambitions to fulfill these desires.  Gekko’s speech surprisingly also widened my range of perspectives of some of the principles I possess in life.  I have found it quite valuable to always keep an open mind and to at least be able to take into consideration other perspectives as it only benefits knowledge and further/extended understanding.  It would be fairly ignorant otherwise to not hear the other side of a story.

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