Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Need for Greed

The capitalistic system that rules in the USA has blessed millions with financial resources that most of the world cannot imagine. I have not traveled a lot, but when I am in countries of the third world I try to always visit a grocery store. What a wake up call. My local Wal-Mart has more merchandise in the cookies and bread area than the entire supermarket in Black River, Jamaica. My friends in Uganda work for a week for what I can spend on a moderate lunch at my local Applebee's Restaurant. We are truly in a good position financially.

The main problem with capitalism is its greatest strength. When it is working properly. It works great. Wealth is almost limitless for those who work hard and make good decisions. In fact, that is exactly why the US is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.

But, as we think about the recession that seems to be just ending in America, we can see that there are some real problems- weaknesses- in capitalism. It is these problems that created the economic crisis that nearly ruined the whole world.

First of all, capitalism leads to greed. Getting paid, getting ahead, even getting rich are not inherently bad. However, having money can very easily cause a person to want more money. Having more money and wanting more money can become the most important things in life for people. Adding these issues together equals greed. Greed is always bad. Those who are greedy consider only their own needs, wishes and desires. The concerns of others become absolutely unimportant.

Secondly, greed leads to complacency. As long as what I want is taken care of, I don't care what happens to others. I can sit by and watch as things happen to those around me. Since it doesn't happen to me, it doesn't affect me. I can be completely apathetic to needs around me. Additionally, I lose sight of the importance of ethics and integrity in my own life. I will get what I want at all costs.

Complacent apathy can only lead to laziness. We become so unconcerned about things happening around us that we don't notice anything. When we don't notice we don't care. When we don't care we forget how to care. When we don't care we might as well not get out of bed in the morning. We lose sight of all motivation. Because I don't care, I become disinterested and unmotivated toward everything except my own specific needs and activities.

Finally, laziness- the consequence of greed- cannot help but beget the decline and ultimate fall of a society. As our leaders- financial, political and otherwise- get lax in their oversight of systems, and as we get lax in our oversight of our leaders, everything begins to fall apart. Our culture cannot- and will not- continue to exist as long as we are greedy, lazy and complacent.

No comments: