According to Oliver Stone’s 1987 film ‘Wall Street’ “Greed is Good”. But is it really?
We live in a world of limited resources. Land, wealth, food; all of these things need to shared between the people who live on this beautiful planet, and yet at times there barely seems to be enough to go around. Have you ever noticed how some seem to always want more of whatever it is that they have. Even if it means others will have less?
“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” — Mahatma Gandhi
What is greed?
The dictionary defines greed as being:
a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed
This is certainly what most people would understand when you say the word greed. The question this definition raises, however, is who says when the amount you have of something (money, food or power for example) has gone beyond what is just ‘needed’? What is enough?
Each man for himself
The urge of wanting more than you really need is something that I encounter on a regular basis. Whenever we have biscuits for snack time at my house, my kids are allowed to take their portion from the packet themselves. As any self-respecting parent would do, I tell them to take one each but invariably at least one of my kids will try to take a handful. I’ve come to know this as the ‘grab reflex’. The motivation behind my kids using the grab reflex seems to be a fear that there won’t be enough to satisfy them so they better get as much as they can first.
When we feel we ‘need’ it can blur the edges between necessity and desire. Greed can masquerade as need but the problem with greed is it’s never satisfied. When greed is talked about in the bible the word used in the original language has been translated as meaning the ‘accursed love of having’. It’s not about need at all. Greed is all about desire and having, normally at the expense of others. We’ve somehow bought into the lie that through getting the things we desire we will quench the ‘need’ we feel and become happy. The truth is that if you don’t learn to control it, your greed will continue to grow.
It’s hard to be greedy if you’re content and grateful for what you have. Finding a way to be satisfied and at ease with what you have keeps you from being consumed by greed. Being sure that your needs are taken care of also helps. The bible tells us that God is able to take care of everything that we need. This doesn’t mean that we have all we want. It does mean that when we entrust our lives and needs into his control, he is more than able to see that we are given all that is required.