On the Subject of Greed

Socrates the Greek Philosopher once said, “He is richest who is content with the least. He who has little and wants less is richer than he who has much and wants more.” Human beings tend to pursue material objects to an extent of which is truly necessary, this I would consider greed. This characteristic is present in most people on Earth.

It may be visible, or under the surface, the wish to fulfill our wants dwells within. Constantly we are pulled toward the desires and by our human nature, we simply give in. While I was reading the short story “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy I took note that the protagonist Pahom was tempted by the devil to acquire an abundance of land that was not a necessity. Pahom encounters the devil three times throughout the story, and the result of two of these confrontations leads to Pahom obtaining more land. Each time he gains land, he appreciates it for a short time and then he is left feeling as if he lacks something. His last concurrence with the devil results in his demise.

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Pahom’s last stab at receiving more land caused him to lose his money, his life, and everything else he had ever worked for. In the end he was the rich man who was content with the least. Greed takes away all the riches in your vitality. Once you have everything, you only continue to seek the next best thing; your still insatiable. As a child growing up my mother always told me to treat others how I would like to be treated in return. I believe this is the motto my mother lives by everyday.

She has taken many families into our home when no one else was around to take them in. My mother is an example of humility, and I respect her for that. These people were left without homes and the father’s of the children were abusive and cruel. My mother stepped forward and put these victims before herself. We shared rooms and also provided food for both families to eat off of. Of course money was scarce; my father was the only one employed at the time.

Everything was not laid in the palms of our hands. Extra cash was never a question sparked up in conversation. These living conditions were definitely a challenge for all of us, but the only concern was giving a helping hand to those who needed it most. Love was the force holding us together, and greed was the enemy we all strived to overcome. Bernard Lawrence “Bernie” Madoff is a former stock broker, and also the man known for the largest Ponzi scheme in history. He offered money to investors that other company’s simply could never guarantee.

He did plead guilty to eleven federal felonies and also admitted to this fraudulent investment and defrauding of thousands of investors; he stole millions of dollars from others. He was sentenced to one hundred fifty years, the maximum sentence allowed. This man was caught in the imperious desire to endure multitudes of money. Madoff was not at all concerned with consequences he may face, or the lives of the people he was harming. In the bible, the book of Proverbs, chapter eighteen, verse one states, “an unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all self judgment.” The verse indicates that a person who is only interested in themselves is the perfect example of someone blind to their own faults.

Socrates was a man of great knowledge; and he defined greed with accuracy. This great philosopher realized the engagement in possessing new things of which are not essential will leave you even less content than your were to begin with. People in the past have also found this to be very valid. The rich man will never be as happy as the humble peasant who does what is just. Do you ever ponder on the thought of greed? How might you define yourself? Are you the humble peasant or the rich man?