Greed

Of the seven deadly sins, Greed is perhaps king. In the world of men and women, it may one day be recognized as the ultimate societal cancer. That day will likely come too late for some. In particular, those who’ve starved for wanting of basic sustenance, and others who’ll be caught off guard while paying the price for arrogant excess at the hand of the less fortunate. Greed is not a welcome topic of discussion at cocktail parties. It is not a friend to those with, or without. How much is enough? How long is a piece of rope?

Students of history will remember the disparity of wealth that fueled the French Revolution. “Let them eat cake,” she said, but was there indeed enough fucking cake to go around? No, and yes. Conscious, humanitarian reapportionment of recourses may have rendered the guillotine motionless. However, as a result of resource allocation imbalance, Marie Antoinette ultimately lost her cake and her head. Money must not be everything then. Greed builds a fortified castle to protect its excess, but no fortress has yet been built that cannot be overcome. So it is that in wanting more that one needs a trap is laid by the prey itself.

Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs features five levels of basic human necessities. The first level features physiological needs, such as food, water, shelter, etc. The second tier lists basic safety needs, personal security, employment, resources, health, etc. The top three levels in ascending order are love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Without the first two levels, the top three are out of reach. Society needs these two lowest levels met for the sake of stability, calm, and peace. Without a relative security and safety equilibrium, unrest and division will flourish. Common sense, no?

Greed is a difficult topic because all people view it from their unique perspectives informed by their place on the hierarchy. It is good to be paid well for work well done. It is also wise to think socially, particularly for those who stand at the top of the hierarchy. Handouts are not the answer. However, equitable distribution of wealth in the form of lower disparity in wages, benefits, and so on, would go a long way toward inching all of humanity up the ladder of basic needs. It will likely be climbed one way or another as we saw in 18th century France. Conscience and kindness can build a bridge to societal equanimity. Wall building, hoarding, and thoughtlessness form the province of Greed.

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