Summary: Americans do not go to church any more: they have switched religions; they now attend the Temple of Greed!” We didn’t invent greed. Greed has been around as long as there have been people, and stuff to lust after. In every era of human history, there have
Several men were in the locker room of a health club after exercising. Suddenly a cell phone on one of the benches rings. A man picks it up and the following conversation ensues: Hello?" "Honey, It's me." "Hi!" "Are you at the club?" "Yes." "Great! I'm at the mall 2 blocks from where you are. I saw a beautiful mink coat. It is absolutely gorgeous!! Can I buy it?" "What's the price?" "Only $10,000 on sale." "Well, okay, go ahead and get it, if you like it that much." "Uh, and I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the 2011 models. I saw one I really liked. I spoke with the salesman and he gave me a really good price ... and we can trade in the BMW that we bought last year..." "How much?" "Only $60,000!" "Okay, but for that price I want it with all the options." "Great! Before we hang up, something else..." "What?" "Well, I stopped by to see the real estate agent this morning and I saw the house we had looked at last year. It's for sale!! Remember? The one with a pool, English garden, acre of land, on the water..." "How much are they asking?" "Only $750,000, down from $900,000... that’s a steal! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!" "Well, then go ahead and buy it, but just bid $720,000. Okay?" "Okay, sweetie. Thanks! I'll see you later!! I love you!!!" "Bye. I do too." The man hung up the phone and raised his hand while holding the phone, asking to all those present, "Does anyone know who this phone belongs to?"
Money Magazine declared money and possessions were the number one obsession of Americans. It seems that we never have enough and always are wanting more. Russell Brownworth writes, “It’s not hard to figure out….why Americans do not go to church any more: they have switched religions; they now attend the Temple of Greed!” We didn’t invent greed. Greed has been around as long as there have been people, and stuff to lust after. In every era of human history, there have been people who exhibited: from kings and conquerors to criminals, mobsters and Wall Streeters. We’ve seen examples of greed today even in our own politicians and judges. But greed is more than a cultural problem. It’s spiritual. Father Andrew Trammel writes, “The most serious spiritual problem in the country today is reckless and unchecked greed.”
Greed is the reason we’re in this recession. But the cause is not just Wall Street. It also extends to Mainstreet. While Wall Street and the banks extended credit when they shouldn’t have in an effort to make more money and receive outlandish bonuses, many average Americans overextended themselves financially in an effort to live the good life by buying a larger and nicer home than they could afford. All of us have felt the affects of this greed. Some of us have lost our jobs, some of us have lost our homes, but all of us have been challenged in our financial security for the future.
So what is greed? Greed is the selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed. Greed is human desire gone awry. It’s consumption out of control. Greed is the reason consumer debt has doubled in the last 10 years and why most Americans go into debt at a rate of $400 per paycheck. It is why credit card debt in the US stands at $1.6 trillion. Greed is well described by a gravesite in England. One stone read, “She died for the want of things.” Next to her was a headstone reading, “He died trying to give to her!” Greed is an insatiable craving for more money and things. It’s the condition where enough is never enough. Greed can be summed up in a word: MORE! We want more. John D. Rockefeller put it well when he was asked how much money was enough, he replied, “Just a little bit more.”
And yet this issue of trying to make as much money as possible for ourselves is idolized and even romanticized. Gordon Gekko, the lead character starring Michael Douglas of the first Wall Street movie, proclaimed, “Greed is good. Greed works. Greed sells!" And yet, we have seen countless examples where greed has not only failed but has irreparably damaged others in the fall of Worldcom, Enron and Bernie Madoff. Most of us though never really think about greed until the economy turns south, and a small group of people are accumulating great sums at the expense of many who are suffering. It’s only then we get angry. Greed is sometimes hard to notice in yourself, but it’s awfully easy to notice in others. We’re quick to point our fingers at others and their lives of extravagance.