I just read the entire text at http://www.g-r-e-e-d.com/GREED.htm. It's an excellent, well-written piece of work. Be forewarned though… it's quite lengthy if you're looking for a quick read. You'll have to get through it though if you intend to get any real understanding as to the motivation of this entry though.
Throughout the essay, I couldn't help but question my own motivations for the pursuits in my life. I look at the things that I am attempting to accomplish and see not greed as the primary motivator, but rather entertainment and the pursuit of happiness. I own a big TV not to be elevated above my neighbours but because I enjoy watching movies. I want a nice house so I can provide a comfortable environment for my wife and, hopefully some day, kids to come home to, not because I want to deny someone else a place to live.
Of course, as I continued to read I could easily see the ways in which society, and by "society" I suppose I mean the media and corporate voices within it, is promoting greed and excess as the ultimate successes. This wasn't news to me. A few minutes of TV will make that undeniably obvious.
Am I kidding myself then? Am I self-righteously justifying my greed? Should I be looking elsewhere for my happiness?
Where then, do we draw the line? As I work to make my mortgage payments while trying to make life more enjoyable, should I be denying myself the things I like while giving more to charities? Should I take personal responsibility for the plight of the poor while the rich continue to indulge?
Having used welfare to pay my bills while I finished school and taken loans to pay for a degree that I'm still paying for, I have first hand experience of the ability to rise above the position in society I inherited. Is it wrong for me to expect the same of others?
Of course, I recognize that I certainly didn't come from the very lowest rungs of society. They may not have the benefit of the moral guidance that allowed me to pursue things that would elevate me rather than simply struggling for survival. Is the solution then to redistribute wealth or is the solution to provide a proper education at a youngr age? Rather than focusing on the alphabet and adding numbers, should we be spending more time teaching morals and societal behaviour in the earliest grades? This should be the job of parents and families but I think we can all agree that there are far too many cases out there in which this doesn't happen. If you guide children to act in such a way in which they can take control of their own destinies, will they learn from that?
And finally… is there any accounting for the differing abilities among people? While we'd like to believe that all people are created equal, there is no denying that some people are more capable than others and that those who aren't end up suffering for it. What is the solution to that?
I guess in the end, I'm left with a better understanding of the problems with modern society and the role that greed is playing in it, but I'm not necessarily sure what I should be doing about it, if anything at all.
I feel a little bit helpless now. Maybe I should go out and buy his book. Of course, that would contribute to his wealth and thus, to the downfall of society. No. Instead I think I'll go home and rest up so I can go back to work tomorrow for the Man and continue to eke out my existance as best I can.