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GET REAL: Greed, the root of evil


GET REAL: Greed, the root of evil

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FANS OF MY work are always telling me to get real. Not in so many words. They usually word it something like this: “I love your poetry/articles. But you know it gun go over most people heads, doh?”

However, I have enough experience talking to and performing for diverse audiences to know that some of the head people you would feel ain’t gun get it, do. 

The people who really don’t get it, whatever it may be at the time, are people whose hidden agenda conflicts with the message and people who are disconnected from realities that vary from their own limited personal experience. In other words, they don’t want to get it or they don’t have the ability to see beyond their noses.

Please understand, by getting it, I do not mean agree. Many people “get it” but still see “it” differently. I also sometimes hear: “I really love your work. I don’t always agree but I like how you put it.” Getting it doesn’t mean you have to share the opinion. Oftentimes, I get where people are coming from even though I am coming from the opposite direction. Because we are heading in different directions does not mean we are necessarily on a collision course. This is something a lot of people don’t get.

For too many people, a different opinion to theirs is a mark of ignorance or stupidity. If you don’t get where they are coming from they want you to get lost. For me the real mark of ignorance is not being able to appreciate different points of view. It may also be a real mark of evil.

The popular saying is that love of money is the root of all evil. Obviously, there must have been evil before there was money. So this cannot be literally true. If there is any truth to this statement, money would have to be symbolic of something else. In our world money is a symbol for resources. Before there was money there was a love of whatever kind of resource was most valuable at the time.

Obviously, everyone loves to have resources at their disposal. Who doesn’t love to have the resources to make their life more comfortable and secure? So in order for the statement to be true we have to clarify what we mean by love. Maybe it is better to call it greed. Instead of love of money being the root of all evil it may be more precise to say: “Greed for valuable resources is the root of all evil.” 

We see how greed for things like oil, water, real estate, access to markets and such, which we translate into money, can be the root of evil. Sex, which, as social media personality Natlee would tell you, was selling from biblical times, is probably the original valued resource after water, food and air. Greed for sex might have been the original root of root of evil. Even today they tell you “sex sells.” 

When the resource is abundant and easy to come by greed is mostly a problem for the greedy. Eat too much food and you make yourself sick. Have too much sex and the consequences are on you, as long as you are having sex with adult and consenting partners. It is when resources are scarce that evil arises. It is not the resource that is bad but the lengths we will go to get it. In our greed for scarce resources we can do some evil things. 

What then is evil? Evil could be called the mistreatment of others. The mistreatment of others is usually rooted in a struggle to obtain a resource that we believe is scarce and can only be gotten by depriving someone else. If you can see how greed for a scarce resource is a root of evil, then consider that the lack of ability to see the other person’s point of view may be the trunk. 

If I feel the need to obtain a scarce resource I may be moved to take it from someone else. That is likely to be someone I consider not like me, not part of my clan or group; the other. Once I consider someone or some group “the other” it becomes easier for me to use them to satisfy my lust or greed.  Pair greed for a scarce resource with an exploitable other and you have the recipe for atrocity: war, genocide, imperialism, oppression.

But what about crimes or acts of evil that seem to have no base in an economic resource? What about when people torture innocents or animals for fun? This points to the fact that we have psychological needs as well as physical needs.  Even so-called senseless crimes could be seen as an attempt to obtain resources; psychological resources like love, respect, connection, peace. 

When you see schoolchildren fighting for seemingly no good reason, angry though all their physical needs are met, maybe they are trying to obtain a psychological resource that they find scarce, like love or respect. Get it?

Respect seems to be a scarce commodity. The inability to see the world from other people’s point of view is epidemic. Read the comments under online articles for more evidence of this. Greed for respect plus a scarcity of respect plus a culture of an individualism which sees almost everyone else as “the other” is a recipe for problems in a society. Add to this, political leaders who set the example of ridiculing, threatening and disrespecting those with differences of opinion . . . wuh loss!

But wait, there’s more . . . . A prevailing philosophy that says eternally increasing your surplus of resources is the goal of life plus beating the competition . . . Lord havess mercy! I don’t know if you agree but I hope you get.  I’m almost sure you do. 

The problem is . . . after you get it, wuh yuh supposed to do?

Adrian Green is a creative communications specialist. Email [email protected]