He considers this "obscene" that one person should have so much money.
There was some discussion by the panel about whether the government should force fabulously wealthy people to share more of their wealth by giving more to charity, or by taxing them more heavily.
Is it greed that drives some people to keep amassing more wealth even when they already have more than they could ever need?
Then I noticed in my email a new version of that old "chain-letter" scam that has gone around the Internet for years - the one that says to send $5 to each of five people on the list and then remove the top name and place yours at the bottom, and within a matter of weeks you will receive up to $55,000 in the mail if you send out enough spam letters to other people on the Net (and appeal to their greed). This time it claims that a TV show investigated the scam and found it perfectly legal, but fails to provide the name of the show or any way to verify this false claim.
Is it greed that makes people get suckered into "get-rich-quick" scams like this?
Then, after dinner tonight, I ran into an old friend who had come from a seminar on "offshore investments", which he said was basically a "pyramid scheme" in which you made more money by bringing others into the scheme than you did by actually "investing" in foreign tax-free havens like Belize.
Is it greed which makes people think they can get rich by participating in what is really just a glorified "chain-letter" scheme?
So greed seemed to be the topic of the day for me, which is why I chose to write about it here. I learned something about greed a few years ago which had never occurred to me before.
Greed is based on a belief in lack, instead of a belief in abundance.
If you doubt that abundance is a reality in this world, then look at someone like Bill Gates who has accumulated an abundance of wealth beyond anyone's imagination. I suspect he believes in abundance; and in his little world there is abundance instead of lack. You see, it doesn't matter if you think the world cannot provide enough for everyone (though it probably can); what matters is if you believe it can provide enough for you.
When you believe in lack, then the logical extension of that is to think there will never be enough to go around and you had better grab what you can before someone else gets your share. The less you think there is to go around, the more motivated you will be to grab even more, out of fear that you may suffer from not having enough. You may even fear it to the point that you start grabbing what might be considered other people's share, and that's when you start being accused of greediness.
I have come to believe that whenever we make choices out of fear, we will find the results unsatisfying. So if greed is based on a fear, it should therefore turn out to be unsatisfying for the one who acts greedy. I can think of examples where this came to pass; but I can also think of cases where the greedy seem to be enjoying the goodies they have grubbed and grabbed for. Is this a paradox?
I think that perhaps the determining factor is whether you are acting out of the fear that comes from a belief in lack, or the faith that comes from a belief in abundance. If a man accumulates great wealth and is happy with his life, then perhaps that is a sign that he has believed in abundance. If he is not happy with all his wealth, or he ends up losing it, or he loses his friends and family from focusing too much on making money; then perhaps that is a sign that he believed in lack and was driven by fear, not faith.
I find that by seeing things this way, I can admire those who accumulate great wealth and seem happy with the life it creates, and not feel envious or accuse them of greed. Of course, being able to see things this way implies that you also believe that people are responsible for their own lives, which means that if they lack the things they want or need then it is because they chose the consequences of believing in lack.
It seems difficult to reconcile this belief with the altruistic ideals that say we should share with our fellow humans and help them out of their state of poverty somehow. But if you accumulate wealth and choose to act altruistically, you will do more good than if you let a belief in lack keep you from having enough to share with others. Even if you choose not to give away your money, you can give away your knowledge of how a belief in abundance could help them out of their condition of poverty or neediness.
But if you truly believe in abundance, you can give away much of your wealth and be secure in the faith that you will always have enough. Perhaps that is what proves your faith, and perhaps those who give away their wealth end up having more and being happier with what they have - or at least being happy with what they have left. Philanthropists are admired, while the greedy and self-serving rich are envied or despised.
Whether they are philanthropists or misers, we can choose to see them as examples of how abundance is possible, and could be possible for us too. I think those who accumulate their wealth with greed will punish themselves by being unhappy with their wealth. We do not have to judge them or condemn them - their own choices will create the appropriate consequences for them. Wealth can be a curse, or a blessing. Look at all the unhappy rich people. Some are so unhappy, they end up killing themselves.
What matters is what we choose for ourselves.
Will we let the wealthy inspire us to believe wealth can be true for us too? Or will we waste our potential by putting our energy into putting down the people who are proving to us that abundance is a real possibility in our own personal realities?
©1999 June 23 by Michael Star
A Law the greedy have not learned:
The Greatest Good For ALL Concerned.
What goes around comes round, they say;
and those who take will lose some way.
- Michael Star ©2002 17DEC
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