Understanding Greed: social acceptance of greed and its consequences



Faster, higher, stronger – these are excellent aspirations when one is trying to better oneself. But when ambition is expected to fire you to be faster than the other, prove stronger than your competitor, climb higher than anyone in history, when ambition, in fact, is seen as not merely desirable but even essential, then ambition becomes undifferentiated from greed. Success is the goal, and ambition is the fuel. And success is not the subtle glow of self-satisfaction that suffuses an individual who has simply achieved a personal goal. Success is to be flaunted, not savored in private. Therefore, success has to be quantified in material aggregation: of trophies won, properties accumulated, power available for wielding at will.  A game that is played for pleasure is passé. You have to play to win, to cultivate the ‘fighter’ instinct.  You have to be successful in order to be socially acceptable and it is socially acceptable to do all it takes to achieve that success. That Duryodhana [who embodies ambition in the Indian epic, Mahabharatha] roped in Shakuni, the epitome of cunning, to realize his ambition would be considered a master-stroke by modern-day strategists. When what was once considered immoral – and not even merely amoral – becomes something desirable, how do we negotiate the change? Change, after all, is a permanent feature of life and living …

[More to come in the coming days]


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