On Greed and Selfishness

I was talking to my doctor the other day and the issue of human greed came up.  Are humans inherently greedy?  I personally believe the answer to the question is “No.”  My doctor tried to used the example of how the world is today but what my doctor was forgetting is that the sample population being looked at was only 1% of all humans who ever lived on this planet.  It is my argument that it’s the way it currently is in the world is because of how we teach people to be.  That greed and selfishness isn’t human nature as society likes to preach.

The problem in society is based in the foundation.  That foundation is capitalism.  Capitalism teaches us to be greedy and selfish.  The winners in capitalism are those who exploit, legally rob, and cheat the most people.  Success isn’t measured by how many smiles you bring into the world but by how much money one makes.

Things have only been “this way” for the last 10,000 years.  Before that, humans and the planet were getting along just fine.  The problem started when man decided that the earth belong to him instead of the fact that man belongs to the earth.  I am not saying civilization is inherently bad – the Greeks and the Romans did just fine without causing the destruction on the planet we are now.  Man needs to learn to have the damage done to the planet and the planet’s ability to replenish itself  in sync.

I argue if we were to have a system based on community, sharing, and brotherhood – we would have a different world.  If parents didn’t raise their children to put “me” first.  If we taught that treating others with respect, compassion, and kindness instead of being taught that everything is a commodity.

Even the way we relate to people in retail and service reflects how capitalism has brainwashed society.  We do not see the salespeople as humans who have a family at home and their own problems.  If we did, people wouldn’t get half as mean, nasty, or upset.  We’re so conditioned that we don’t even see having the right to chose what to eat, where to shop, and what to wear as having a privilege.  Most retail stores remove all human aspects from their presentation – with each store, no matter where you are in the world – having the exact same service and the exact same product.  Cookie cutter products for cookie cutter people who like to believe they are “unique.”  It’s all a lie.

A few stores, like Costco have policies that none of their products can come from sweatshop labor.  But, we as consumers are so far removed from the way things are produced that we allow inhumane treatment for our mass produce goods.  Most of the time, people’s clothes are more well traveled than the wearer.  Most people don’t even think about the person who made it – how they have families, problems, and poverty.  We need to focus on having a human community were everyone gets their share.  Global wealth created global poverty.

I think this is one of the harder concepts I have to get people to wrap their heads around.  For every action, there is a reaction.  The reaction of having rich is that we have the poor.  In other countries, there is a limit to how much a CEO can earn.  It makes the gap between the rich and poor less so people are more level.  Not that there isn’t rich and poor, but really, how many yachts do you need?  And how many children die of hunger a day?  Think about it.

One of the main problems is that we are conditioned to not think about it and accept the motto, “This is the way things have always been.”  This is false.  We can change the world and make it a beautiful place for everyone if we just cared a little and put some thought into what we consume.

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5 Responses to “On Greed and Selfishness”

  1. Jingle Says:

    yes, all human being is greedy, it is okay unless your benefits are built upon someone else’s pains, loses, or sufferings..thank you for the cool topic.

  2. Pythos Says:

    Humans do do what they do in their own self interest. We eat, so that we may continue to live. We clothe ourselves honestly for much the same reason.

    But Making huge profits at the expense of other people’s well being and health is an absolute crime. Not one person deserves to make the amount of money CEOs make. Not one.

    The pay of a CEO should be based on a percentage not over 100 of the pay of the least paid employee, even if that employee is a temp.

  3. Devorah Says:

    Here’s a question for you: what do you think would happen to non-gender-normative and/or non-straight people in a society that’s not based on “me”? I’m currently studying in Israel, and I’ve heard a lot about how Palestinian society is based on the family rather than the self, and homosexuality is invisible because it would be seen as a shame on the family. Maybe this is selfish, but I’d rather a me-focused society than a society where I’d be forced to hide.

    • Jess Five Says:

      It’s not the fact that society is based on family rather than “me” that’s the problem – it’s the problem that the society your happening to address oppresses. If we had a world free of oppressions without the focus being self – but community – the world would be beautiful.

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