Saturday, January 26, 2013

On Greed and Selfishness .

Last semester I took a finance class, and my professor happened to be a quirky guy who made you realize things about yourself. There was one day where my professor told the class to raise your hand if you were greedy. Naturally, no one raised their hand, and he said, that's what I thought. He then asked us as a class why we were here. With the exception of those who enter a field that is a passion (music, art, etc.) those who go to college are in college because they know that they can get a higher starting salary upon graduation. Who's greedy now? The whole class.

You see, I think people are for the most part inherently greedy. Perhaps not to the level of extreme cases, but just think about it: lots of things are done for money. Think about this scenario: A man (let's call him Bob) works at his job, gets paid a salary that is just enough for him to live on comfortably. It's not excessive, but he can save a little bit over the year. Now, Bob's been working hard and his manager offers him a promotion. Would he turn the promotion down because he's already living a comfortable life? Of course not.

People will take as much as there is offered. "Greed" is defined as intense or selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food. Bob doesn't consider himself a greedy person, but sees this promotion with the thought that he'll be able to buy that luxury car he always wanted, or buy a really nice steak for dinner. Treating yourself is one thing, but living excessively is another. Imagine if people took promotions and gave that extra money to a cause? There is always a desire for more. A higher salary, a nicer car, a bigger house. Lately I've been looking at sustainable homes, and these new micro-homes that are super small but so easy to live in, and feel much bigger than they look. It's possible to live comfortably in a 12x12x12 foot cube! Did you even think that would be possible?

Greed fuels America. Even the people that first came here described it as the place where the streets are paved with gold. Now we drive the biggest cars, have the biggest homes, the biggest boats. I know people that take huge vacations multiple times a year. How can anyone afford that?

One day, I'd love to just buy a bunch of sandwiches or make them and just go out around the city, handing them out to those who need it. Now, I'm all for people getting a job and contributing to society, and I think they should make motions toward doing that instead of just begging for things. I guess I just want to be able to make a difference. Greed comes down to what you need v. what you want. Though I'm probably a hypocrite on this topic like most others. I have more shirts than I can possibly wear, things in my room I don't even touch. I'd like to change that before I move to grad school; and get rid of the things I don't need. I'll have less stuff, and life will be simpler and easier.

It's an interesting question if we ask ourselves, what do we honestly and truly need? One of goals is to live at the minimum for awhile. No superfluous space, no excessive spending. If can't honestly justify something, then just forget it. That might be really hard and I'd have to really crack down on a lot of things, but it might be worth it, at least for awhile.

Something to think about I suppose; I'm curious what your thoughts are. Feel free to share below.


  1. I do agree that our society is inherently greedy - but I almost think that's a byproduct of Capitalism. I know I know, I am not trying to drag politics into this...but it's true. Many Western European nations (particularly the Scandinavian countries)are altruistic societies...everyone is happy to contribute to the greater good. So I think certain societies are greedy, rather than human being as a whole.

    1. As always, interesting viewpoint, and I think I'd have to agree. The greater good doesn't take the cake (whether you're a peasant or the President)


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