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Jack London wrote a wonderful story
illustrating one cause of greed. It's called "Love of Life," and it's about a man who
comes extremely close to death by starvation. When he's
rescued by the crew of a ship, people start to notice
that the hardtack is missing. When they search his
quarters, they find that the man has hidden hardtack
everywhere possible--he's hoarded the stuff, for he's
afraid that he'll go without food again and that he may
starve. He's become incredibly greedy because of a fear
that has become a very real part of him.
Isn't that what makes most people
greedy? Fear? For some people, their greed is a result of
something that's happened in childhood, something they
were deprived of, something they didn't get. Because of
this lack in their lives, they feel that they have to
hold on to everything they possibly can. Some people won't
donate money because they're afraid their own financial
resources will be drained. Some won't give love because
they're afraid a person will take it and leave, leaving
them with less love. Some won't give food because they're
afraid they'll run out of food themselves.
what the cause, though, greed is deservedly one of the
seven deadly sins. My dictionary defines "avarice"
as "greed for money and abnormal hatred of parting
with it," but it's impossible for me to see greed as
being limited to money. Greed pulls us away from other
people, makes people want to avoid us, makes people feel
bitter and angry towards us.
Yes, there are those people
who will feel compassionate, who will know that the greed's
controlling us, and not the other way around, but those
people are relatively few. And just because they feel
compassion for us doesn't mean they want to be around us, for they know that there's always a chance that
greed will end up hurting them, too.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a beautiful
example of a greedy man. Much of the beauty of the
character lies in Dickens' explanation of the cause of
Scrooge's greed--no matter how much we despise the man,
we have to sympathize with him to a certain extent. Money
has become a symbol of safety to him, and to let it go
means to lose his security. At a young age, he even gives
up his fiancée because of his need for the security that
he thinks money will provide. He finds out, though, that
his focus on money has turned him into a solitary,
isolated creature, without a friend on the planet. Dickens ends the story wonderfully, showing us how a
simple change in perspective can change a man's heart. We're
glad, of course, for the other characters who no longer
have to deal with the skinflint Scrooge, but we're even
more glad for Scrooge himself, who finds a bit of
happiness in his remaining years on the planet.
hurts everyone, but it especially hurts the greedy person. If I have to deal with a greedy person, it affects me
negatively for a moment or three, but then I leave, and
then I avoid that person. The greedy person, though,
because of a fixation on something material or something
they're afraid of losing, hurts and alienates people, and
very often ends up quite alone until he or she is able to
rid him or herself of the fixation on their object of
these people need to learn that they're fine just as they
are, and that their lives aren't being made richer by
possessing the things which they crave, but poorer
because of the way that they act in trying to get the
things they crave and trying to hold on to the things
they have. My hope is that they can be happy without the
need, without the things.
bounty of nature is too little for the greedy person.
There is no vice which
to such wild extremes as that of avarice.
is a sufficiency in the world
for people's need but not for people's greed.
|Greed is a bottomless
pit which exhausts the person
in an endless effort to satisfy the need
without ever reaching satisfaction.
lessens what is gathered.
|A greedy person and a pauper are practically one
and the same.
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makes us more vulnerable than loneliness, except greed.
has three gates: lust, anger, and greed.
from the Bhagavad Gita
|She had been so wicked that in all her life she
had done only one good deed--given an onion to a beggar.
So she went to hell. As she lay in torment she saw the
onion, lowered down from heaven by an angel. She caught
hold of it. He began to pull her up. The other
damned saw what was happening and caught hold of it too.
She was indignant and cried, "Let go--it's my
onion," and as soon as she said, "my onion,"
the stalk broke and she fell back into the flames.
|Greed, envy, sloth, pride and
gluttony: these are not vices anymore. No,
these are marketing tools. Lust is our way of life. Envy is just a
towards another sale. Even in our relationships we consume each other,
each of us looking for what we can get out of the other. Our appetites
are often satisfied at the expense of those around us.
In a dog-eat-dog world we lose part of our humanity.
Most of the mess that is called history comes about
because kings and
presidents cannot be satisfied with a nice chicken and a good loaf of
is a fat demon with a small mouth
and whatever you feed it is never enough.
Janwillem Van de Wetering
|Greed is an
imperfection that defiles the mind; hate is an imperfection
that defiles the mind; delusion is an imperfection that defiles the
Selfishness and greed,
individual or national, cause most of our troubles.
Harry S. Truman
The ugliest thing in America is greed, the lust for
power and domination,
the lunatic ideology of perpetual Growth--with a capital G.
in our nation has for too long been confused with 'Growth'; I see the
two as different, almost incompatible, since progress means, or should
mean, change for the better--toward social justice, a livable and
world, equal opportunity and affirmative action for all forms of life.
And I mean all forms, not merely the human. The grizzly, the wolf,
the rattlesnake, the condor, the coyote, the crocodile, whatever, each
and every species has as much right to be here as we do.
Postcards from Ed