“You greedy bum”.  "Greed's gonna get the best of you".  I wonder how many times I have been called a greedy bum, and with worse names than “bum” when playing cards or dominoes.  When I play cards or dominoes with my buddies, I try to win all of the games I can.  Should I feel greedy when I do win?  Am I being greedy when I try to win?  When checking Wikipedia I found the following definition.

“Greed is an excessive desire to possess wealth, goods, or abstract things of value with the intention to keep it for one's self. Greed is inappropriate expectation. However, greed is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.”

There are two words that stick out in that definition for me. The first one is “excessive”.  When playing cards or dominoes we are careful to make sure the amount of money is not a high enough amount to hurt any of us, even if one of us were to lose every game.  Under those conditions, I do not think “greed” comes into play.  The other word is "inappropriate".  The same steps taken in playing with reasonable bets preclude “greed” as well.

The last sentence in the definition is the key to the whole question of “am I greedy”?  Greed is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status and power Now we are getting down to the meat and potatoes of Greed. 

Let’s revisit the “You greedy bum” statement at the beginning of this writing.  That can be a legitimate statement as far as how someone may really feel about someone else.  It is usually however, just a phrase we throw around, usually very loosely.  The following is a continuation of the definition of greed from Wikipedia.

“As a secular psychological concept, greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves. It is typically used to criticize those who seek excessive material wealth, although it may apply to the need to feel more excessively moral, social, or otherwise better than someone else.”

The words “moral, social, or otherwise better than someone else”, brings another and brighter light to the question of whether one may be considered greedy.  I feel ones desire for anything excessive constitutes greed.   However, if ones ultimate goal is to be better than someone else, that does not make one greedy.  It is only normal to desire to be better than the next person.  But, if you tie that to an excessive desire to be better than others or for excessive riches combined with power over others, that does amount to greed.

I talked in an earlier article about the OWS groups that demonstrate against the richest 1% and how the rich are considered greedy by those demonstrators.   The phrase “An inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves” comes to light.  Looking at that phrase, Is their greed in this instance, inordinate or more than the 1% deserve?   Perhaps, but my feelings are that the demonstrators are really the greedy ones.  That is due to the fact that they want more than they have earned, and really, more than they deserve.  I feel it is excessive to expect something for nothing.  I also I think that the majority of those protestors, if they would just admit it, feel the same way.

There are many types of greed, but to list them would be an unending undertaking.  If you really stop and look at types of greed, you will find that many of them can be considered greed on one hand and normal choices on the other.

It all comes down to the individual in the end; what one thinks is morally and socially acceptable.  It is probably impossible, or at least senseless, to take ones standard for greed and assign it to others.  What I might consider to be more than one really needs, could be far different than what someone else might think.  I think each of us know when we are being greedy.  We know deep down what we think of our own actions.  How you handle different situations can tell a lot about yourself and your level of greed, if any. 

I have a short story of a day early in my marriage.  Jane and I went to Dodge City with another couple, on a day off; just relaxing and enjoying not having the kids underfoot.  The whole day consisted of mistakes made in our favor by cashiers giving us too much change, pricing things wrong in our favor or just plain forgetting to charge us.  Of course, back in those days I always figured if the mistake was in my favor, that was fine.  For those of you that know Jane, you know that she would never have any part of that.  She said, and perhaps in different words, that it was greedy and morally dishonest to let that happen.  She made the comment that by being honest instead of greedy, things would come back in our favor eventually. 

It really got to be a joke throughout that day.  It was capped off at Gibson’s in North Dodge late in the afternoon.  I had been trying to get Jane interested in golf and I found a cheap set of irons on sale for $32.00.  I talked Jane into letting me buy the clubs for her and we went up to pay for them.  When the cashier rang them up, the price was $16.00.  We all four started laughing.  The cashier was wondering what was so funny.  I told her what had been happening all day and that every place we went, we had to give money back or correct errors that were inadvertently in our favor.

I showed her the sticker that showed the $32.00 sale price.  She just smiled and turned the box half over and showed us the red tag with a lower $16.00 sale price.  I was flabbergasted of course.  Jane just looked at me and said, “See, I told you.  I told you it would come back to you.”  From that time on, I have always tried to correct errors that are unduly in my favor.

Was I being greedy before Jane, by not correcting errors in my favor?  Absolutely; morally and socially I was not being honest with myself.  Have there been times since then that I have been rewarded for my honesty? Yes, many times.  Have I ever faulted and not corrected mistakes since then?  That is between me and my priest, but I do try to do the right thing.

My message to all who read this article is simple.  Greed is a sin and can be as consuming as drugs and alcohol.  Work hard to better yourself; be successful.  Be fair as you do it, and do not use it for excessive power over others.  Earlier in this article the definition of greed included a phrase "with the intention to keep it for one's self" Your real power is in what you do after you have attained your goals and how you apply it.  There are many groups that depend on successful people’s charity.  Those groups cannot help those in need of their help, without successful individuals donating money and time to them.

When someone calls you a “Greedy Bum”, know in your heart that they are using the term in a friendly way.  Know that when you win or when you become successful, that you will help others.  Your reward will come back to you.  Heck, in the end, your charity may be the one thing that tips the scales in your favor for eternal life in the Light, instead of the eternal darkness of hell.

Pete Thomas

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Pete ~~~~ I am smiling from ear to ear right now, sweet muse and so very true. YES we are rewarded for being "good" and doing the right thing. It's not a matter of "who" might see or catch us, but HE always knows our hearts and actions and HE gives out the rewards, not us back here on earth. HE hands out the money etc. - we are merely HIS secretary/treasurer and are to do HIS wishes. Great "food for thought" to start my day. thanks for the words of wisdom. janie W. A.