I like this definition from the Collins Dictionary. For me the word greed is not used enough. There is so much about our society that has been motivated by greed, but we don't call it out. Why?
Is it because we all harbour greed, this desire for more? Faced with the opportunity to double our salary, wouldn't we all choose to? Isn't that why so many people play the lottery, because they want to have more money?
I disagree. For me greed is when you have a good salary, such as MPs Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and yet you are willing to do almost anything to get even more money. Having the desire for a payrise, so that you can make ends meet is not greed. Buying a lottery ticket in the hope that it will solve all your financial worries, is not greed. Lottery tickets are bought by some of the poorest people, because they see no other hope of a way out of debilitating poverty. And of course it is a trick, because it makes them that little bit poorer with very little prospect of winning a jackpot.
Greed is not just a desire for more, it is the desire for more than is necessary or fair. Has anyone told Bill Gates and the other rich people on Oxfam's bus, who have as much wealth between them as the poorest 3.5 billion people in the world, that they are greedy? Don't let anyone ever tell you again that it is population growth that has led to extreme poverty, as there aren't enough resources to go round. The poor aren't the ones burning through our fossil fuels and exploiting natural resources for money. It is the domination and greed of the rich that is responsible for poverty. If we want to solve poverty we need to tackle greed.
How do we allow the life of just one person to be valued as worth more than 41 million other lives? Who is responsible for this disparity? Of course, the people on the bus who have pursued excessive wealth above everything else, but also I am responsible, for not looking them in the eye and saying 'Shame on you for being so greedy!' (Yes a few Shame-on-you's should do the trick ;-) )
I was watching this report by the BBC on Gaza today about how the human toll continues. They interviewed a lady whose baby son had frozen to death. Not died of an incurable illness, just died because their house was destroyed last summer, along with all the infrastructure like electricity and water supplies, and they had received no help to rebuild. The Israeli government tightly controls the supplies and equipment to Gaza, to prevent any help getting through.
It reminded me of this presentation I watched last year by an ex-Israeli soldier and he talked about the Holocaust and how he wanted to be on the right side, not the side that was persecuting innocent people. Looking from the outside, it really does seem like the Israeli government are trying to eliminate the Palestinians and take their land. Why would a group of people that suffered extreme persecution at the hands of Nazis, not recognise how they are now persecuting the Palestinians?
For me it seems that it isn't about religion, it is about greed and wanting more than is necessary or fair. The majority of people don't want to be rich at the expense of impoverishing their neighbours, they just want a fair share. Yet we have a society that enables the greedy to have the biggest share of wealth and power and influence, and to use that influence to demonise the powerless poor.
Jo at All The Blue Day has been blogging about Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird and her words are worth reading because they are much more moving than mine. She explains her realisation that she doesn't have to change the world. How could she with her small actions alone? It doesn't make it any less important to fight to do the right thing anyway, even if like Atticus Finch she might not win. Doing the right thing, however difficult and impossible it may seem, paves the way for others, so just do it anyway. Just do it for yourself, so you can face your children knowing you stood on the right side.