Is greed really good? Does it motivate or is it a Sin?

The phrase “hard times” reminds us of those days when things really were tough. They might have been when we had no money, no place to live, no one who cared about us, or when we faced all of the problems of the world alone. Studs Terkel interviewed hundreds of people for his book “Hard Times”, which told the story of the Great Depression through the words of the people who actually lived it. Many people still remember the Great Depression when unemployment rates soared to thirty percent and higher. It affected people not only in the US but in many other countries as well. Ironically and tragically, some people today still live no better than many did in the Great Depression. The world is full of areas where poverty and unemployment are rife and where “hard times” are the norm.

When we think of the hard times in our life, we may appreciate more where we are now and what we have now. This is a good thing. However, how often do we think of the hard times in the lives of others? What does the phrase “hard times” mean to people who live where there is no medical care or where starvation and disease still kill thousands? The “Great Recession” is “hard times” to those who have no job and are out of work and whose home is being foreclosed. Greed became good in the 80’s with Gordon Gecko’s infamous “Greed is good speech.” Thank God, the Wall Street Occupiers and others are now trying to return us to more commendable values. Greed is not good. Greed may not be the worst of all sins, but “it is the gateway to all others.”

It became fashionable to believe that: “They just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. If only they had our work ethic or were more like us, they could have what we have. They could live the good life.” This logic assumes that all things in the world are equal and that all circumstances are equal. It does not take much research or knowledge to realize that this is not true. People do not always bring their hard times on themselves by ignorance or sloth. We cannot always control the world and events around us. Remember the quote by Rudyard Kipling “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew, Chapter 5-7). He did not say “blessed are the hard-hearted, or blessed are those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or blessed are those who have the most.” Funny, how many of us can forget the help we needed or wanted when hard times were upon us. Can you find some way to share your good fortune today with others? What can you do today to take some hard times away from someone else? Be grateful for what you have today and see if you can share some of your good feelings and benefits with others. Let’s all work on rolling back the “greed is good ethic that has permeated our culture.”

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bgalbreath
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 15:03:52

    Aristotle taught that true virtue is always the middle between two extremes. Courage was neither foolhardiness nor cowering in fear, but acting in the face of a realistic appraisal of the dangers. Malignant greed is being overly dependent on material things, but without ambition to achieve a comfortable standard of living we would have so much less than we do. I think you are right that the key is to appreciate what we have and to share what we can. A further key I would add is to develop a sense of sufficiency, personally deciding when we have “enough”. The desire to have good things and to have a measure of financial security are not bad things. Malignant greed is the insatiable desire for more. But even that can be a source of good. The driven one can never be happy, but he can sometimes create things that could come about no other way, a great company like Apple, for example. “For every thing there is a season.”



  2. John Persico
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 13:33:12

    My thoughts always return to the quote “what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his own soul?” Ambition can certainly benefit others in the fallout, but perhaps ambition has been the cause of a great deal of pain. I guess it will have to be the balance that you speak of as did the Greeks four thousand years ago.



  3. talentshack
    May 20, 2012 @ 00:19:17

    Hi John – stumbled across your blog and enjoyed it very much. Both inspiring and refreshing. Thank you.



  4. John Persico
    May 22, 2012 @ 15:28:33

    Thanks, I appreciate the reading and am glad you enjoy my blog.



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