Greed, in my opinion, is one of humankind’s most basic drivers of behaviour. It reflects itself in many ways, at all ages, some in a good sort of way, and some not so good.
My 6 year old’s crying for more iPad time, or a few more candies is the most innocent expression of greed. As we get older, it takes on larger manifestations, and our childhood learning of maternal manipulation is leveraged. The desire to run that extra mile on Sunday morning, to work harder to get the highest increment, are positive expressions of greed. However, greed combined with the scarcity mindset is when the shades become more grey. Now, for me to get a chocolate, the other child should not get one. For me to get an A, my coworker has to get a B. This is when behaviour begins to change, to become more manipulative, behaviour is as much to grab more as it is to prevent the other from grabbing the same. Perhaps that’s why many companies have stopped relative ratings in appraisals. Infact, some have even done away with appraisals.
That Greed can have negative consequences, we all know. But when does Greed overtake one’s morals, one’s values ? Corporate corruption at the highest level has been written about extensively in the past few weeks. These have not been instances of greed driven by necessity. Not even greed due to scarcity. These are cases of greed, driven, simply by greed.
When Greed lacks a counter balancing force, it becomes dangerous. But, what is this counter balancing force ? Our Value system? Religion and God ? Fear ?
Fear of what. Fear of censure ? Fear of punishment ? Generally, fear of consequences ? Does this mean that Fear is a more powerful driver of human behaviour than Greed ?
The other side of the Greed coin seems to be Fear. But, we don’t know how to make the coin stand on its edge. Till then, some will continue to live a life of Greed, with no fear. The Haves. The rest will live in Fear, suppressing their Greed. The Have Nots.
Who will win this battle of life ? For now, the Haves are winning over the Have Nots. But, maybe, just maybe, the future will be different.