Long time now, I have been thinking to write about Greed. Why? you may ask. To me greed is one of the most defining characteristics of humans, and most importantly greatly responsible for unhappiness and misery. More often than not, an individual cannot possess all that he wants; yet unable to quest his thirst for what he desires, the greedy will continue on with his futile pursuits.
We see greed manifested in a wide range of human activities and behaviors: from politics to interpersonal relationships, greed is what often drives people to act in a way that others perceive as ‘absurd’. Quite often, though not always, greed is behind selfishness too- the latter is just the expression of greed. Greed and ‘the maximization of profit’? Oh, what a lovely relationship I see there…!
And before I proceed any further, I want to emphasize that I am not against economic productivity: It is just that this relationship can be potentially volatile, particularly if greedy men are in control. Of course, I am not implying that everyone is greedy; yet to mistakenly assume that money is not controlling the lives of many would create a great illusion. In what I consider a must-read book, “El mundo es ancho y ajeno” (The world is broad and alien), Ciro Alegría writes: “El más triste animal pasta soles” which literally translates: “The most unhappy animal of all grazes money”. Today, more than ever, money has acquired supreme importance in our lives, and the more industrialized is the country we live in, the greatest the role it plays.
Regardless of how you value this statement, one thing that strikes to most of us is that money, something that we invented to serve us - a commodity for transactions- has grown quite powerful, impacting the lives of many significantly, whether directly or indirectly. Money is one way of seeing greed: the willingness to accumulate more and more is based on the notion that it can be exchanged for good or services. Greed however can transcend beyond material goods; it can extend for example to power and beyod. For one thing, we need to recognize its might.
I let you with one of my favorite quotes from one of Wole Soyinka’s essays in “Climate of Fear”. Talking about power he comments: “power, as long as you are sufficiently ruthless, amoral and manipulative is within the grasp of even the mentally deficient”(57).
(In the photo a facet of modern Mexico. Aren't we really small?)