106 – On Human Greed …

Greed, in human terms, is an immoderate and selfish need for power, wealth, food, fame, recognition, that is not only beyond the dictates of basic survival needs but that exploits moral weaknesses and overwhelms common sense.

Greed is ancient in our history. It appears to be stronger in some civilizations than in others and more insidious and ruthless in men than in women.

Erich Fromm, the German psychologist, sociologist, philosopher, described greed as “a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.”

Prompted by a hunger for power, possessions, wealth, and, more recently by the dominant economic creed that “Greed is Good”, greed has come to obliterate our common sense to such a degree that most of us have become oblivious to the fact that, like greedy cancer cells, we are harming the host that provides with Life.

Immoderate Greed is a learned, not an innate human characteristic. I don’t think early humans were dominated by greed before the advent of the Agricultural Revolution. Greed may have developed in us as a perversion of the need to store and accumulate goods for the long and harsh winters, or the need to expand territory as groups grew larger, or the need for power as leaders arose. These are of course assumptions, but however the perversion from Need to Greed came to dominate human nature, it is now a powerful force that throws us into a sick, aggressive and destructive competition to have more and more without regard for the consequences of our immoderate urge. A tragic consequence of this perversion is the monstrosity of corporate greed with its rapaciousness, deceit, cruelty, and its atrocious inhumanity,

A degree of greed is elemental for survival, but not when it turns us into a civilization where corruption and hoarding are more protected and promoted than the welfare and happiness of people.

We have been taken hostage by a force that demands the rapaciousness that threatens our survival. But fortunately, we now have the technology to unite the voices of the world to help us understand, and overcome, this force that devoid us of common sense.

Revised February 2020   

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