Greedy Not Needy
A 2014 Huffpost review begins thus:
“My name is Jordan Belfort. The year I turned 26 I made $49 million dollars which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.” More. More money. More drugs. More sex. More power. More everything. Why? Because more is never enough. That’s the driving philosophy for Jordan Belfort, the over-the-top-thrill-seeking subject of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Of the numerous things that puzzle me, toward the top is the seemingly unquenchable desire to have more, no matter how much one has. Professional athletes hold out for more because five million per year isn’t enough. Billionaires gnash their teeth and pull all kinds of shady shenanigans because a $50B or $75B net worth isn’t enough. A five-bedroom, 5,000 square foot home for two people isn’t enough. At least not for Celine Dion who purchased a 20,000 square ft. house with 13 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms.
Some call it the American Dream. I call it greed.
My wife and I have a combined retirement income less than 100K, and we live in a wonderful 4BR home with added mother-in-law suite. We always have plenty of good food on hand, own two very good vehicles, and go on modest vacations now and then. We also have access to excellent health care via Medicare and supplemental insurance. Put simply, we live a wonderfully privileged lifestyle of which much of the rest of the world can only dream. Why would we ever want or “need” more?
The website Science Alert has a page on “How the American Lifestyle Really Compares to the Rest of The World.” A video on the site explains that there's actually a measurement called the 'global hectare', a unit which allows us to compare the use of natural resources to their consumption in a globally standardized way. It turns out that the average person worldwide uses roughly 2.7 of these global hectares per year, whereas the average American clocks in at 6.8 global hectares. If everyone worldwide lived like Americans, we would need 4.2 earths in order to sustain all.
Antonyms of greed are unselfishness, moderation, constraint, temperance. One can add to that a concern that everyone has the necessities of life elucidated in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Being thankful for and satisfied with the manifold material blessings which most Americans enjoy means tempering the desire for and exhortation to acquire more and more and more.
There are two ways to have enough: to get more or to want less. Call it a mental defect or whatever, but I simply cannot fathom how someone who has an annual income of, for instance, $1 million can want more . . . or, in light of the world’s needs, think they have a right to more. Genuine concern for the well-being of the planet and all who live upon it will spontaneously lead to self-discipline and contentment with an average American’s lifestyle.