Thursday, September 24, 2009

Greed

In the 1987 film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) made the following comments about greed:

"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much." (click HERE for Video)

Gekko was right. If the game is competing against one another to win the market, greed is good. If the game is a love for money, greed is good. If the game is to become all that we can be in and of ourselves, greed is good. If the game is becoming the most powerful nation under the sun, greed is good.

But what if that is not the game? What if life isn't a game at all? What if life is bigger than consumerism, materialism, selfishness, and patriotism? What if there is something beyond the sun? Greed makes all the sense in the world if the world is all there is to sense. But Christianity declares that there is someone beyond the sun and that we don't just live for ourselves, but for that someone and for others. And if this is true, then greed becomes a very bad, even a very ugly thing.

Greed, by definition, hurts others. One person cannot gain without another one (or more often, many) losing. Greed, by definition, can't be satisfied. Whatever a man gains, if he is greedy, there will always be something else to acquire. Greed, by definition, can't love. Love is sacrifice of self for others, greed is the sacrifice of others for self. Greed is not good. Rather, it is the very sin that turns good into bad. Ogilvy notes, "Greed turns love into lust, leisure into sloth, hunger into gluttony, honor into pride, righteous indignation into anger, and admiration into envy."

1 comment:

Glo said...

it would seem that greed may be the source of the deadly sins. but then from a Neitzschian point of view greed would be good, and i think it may be that culture is turning more to Nietzsche's way of thinking. if the world is a history of tooth and claw, then the best way to survive is to focus on the preservation of self.