Bird Droppings February 11, 2010
Greed could be our downfall
“That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.” Henry David Thoreau
We watch the news and heads of states and heads of companies fall midst the economic crisis. All the while wealth is disappearing I am told. I recall back in 2008 somewhere along the line our then president made a statement that trillions in wealth has been lost. I was curious what the internet definition of wealth would be and looked to Answers.com.
“An abundance of valuable material possessions or resources; riches., The state of being rich; affluence., All goods and resources having value in terms of exchange or use., A great amount; a profusion:” Answers.com
What I am amused at as the stock market is not mentioned. Goods, resources, material possessions, valuable material, and other words are physical items. While it can be argued at the stock market is only paper, it is fictitious in so many ways, I would say it is not real and yet we treat it as if it were and have made it such. A stock is worth what someone is willing to pay not necessarily what that particular company or product is actually worth. In effect we created this great house of cards and a stiff wind blew it away. We still have the original deck of cards however.
“The future of civilization depends on our overcoming the meaninglessness and hopelessness that characterizes the thoughts of men today.” Albert Schweitzer
I am not a banker but when the multibillionaire King of Saudi Arabia is upset because his oil is selling for fifty four dollars per barrel and not one hundred and forty five and he wants seventy five dollars, I kind of like my two dollars and a half for gas per gallon right now. Why is it that so many wealthy people are upset? Yes there is a trickle down and the housing market is a critical one in our area. Construction workers who had it made building spec houses all over Georgia and now we have thousands of houses sitting vacant. Why are local banks closing and again a few months back in a local newspaper story a local banker lost eighty percent of his net worth? Who is really hurt in this case is a local food bank that received a substantial monthly donation from the bank and local schools that were partners in education.
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” Mahatma Gandhi
I am not an expert and by no means could claim to be but I see such excess and wonder is this right and just. Listening during the last elections to multimillionaires argue tax cuts for middles class and even the whole Joe the Plumber fiasco bothered me. Most politicians are living in a world apart from we mere mortals. We do not have ten million dollar bar tops in our fifty six million dollar yachts and seven houses and twenty cars. Most of us are looking for how to pay this month’s house payment and tuition for kids in college. We are looking for deals at the grocery store not having a cook and shopper who goes and does that.
“The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.” Thomas Merton
Merton was a Trappist monk and lived in poverty as one of his vows and yet was a best selling author, lecturer and poet. He died protesting the war in Southeast Asia. I was thinking of play-dough as I read his line. If the wealth of the world was play-dough and as you squeeze trying to get more it is all pushed out of your hand and you are left with nothing. An interesting thought as it seems in trying to get more many lost everything.
“Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed.” Albert Einstein
We live in a world of such excess and seem to simply allow this to take place. Watching reality shows even based on all of the excess. I joke with my wife about the show “Atlanta Housewives”, in which group of ex-sport figures wives and or girlfriend of extremely wealthy married men flaunt their wealth. Greed is a simply word and it seems entrenched in our mind set and being sadly.
“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” Henry David Thoreau
“Possessions are usually diminished by possession.” Frederic Nietzsche
“Purposeless activity may be a phase of death.” Pearl S. Buck
We are in a difficult time as we head into a year of many politically motivated programs and undertakings by government to stem our financial crisis. Hopefully we can sustain our society in this economic downturn and hopefully we have learned from it. I wonder listening to the news and job forecasts and other indicators if we could be in for more. As a teacher should I not be trying to encourage students to pursue education and going beyond where they are? Many the day I wonder or should I be simply getting them ready to be consumers in a society that focuses on spending and greed. It really makes me wonder as I head back to my classroom this morning what should I as a teacher be doing? But as always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.