I think that’s a common definition. And I disagree with it.
Let’s take money for example - that’s usually a hot one with people. Some people tend to stop wanting more money at a certain point. “Well, I have enough. If I want more, I may look materialistic.” “It’s not right to want more money.”
Now, let me ask this: If we’re in a loving relationship, “is it right” to want that relationship to become more intimate and more fulfilling? If we are in good health, “is it right” to want our bodies to be even healthier, and be more vibrant and energetic? If we have a good spiritual relationship with our creator, “is it right” to want that relationship to be even stronger and more meaningful?
We all have been conditioned so heavily as a child not to be greedy. It’s rude, it is unethical, and it is not fair. While all that may be true, I feel that many people cross the line of understanding the difference between greed and need.
In life, we “need” to always be growing. We “need” to be improving our family life. We “need” to be improving our jobs or businesses. We “need” to be improving ourselves personally.
Greed, in my books (or at least in this particular volume), is when we want something that isn’t rightfully ours. Stealing, lying to get something extra, or following unethical business practices results in being greedy. However, wanting more from a fair and free-market society that we earn through sweat equity is not greedy. The only way that we could be greedy is if we have to take wealth from someone else. And, if we understand wealth in a free world, we know that the only way to earn wealth is to add or give value to others.
Many personal or professional development programs we have or will take part in will tell us that in order to accomplish anything significant, we must move from a place of “want” to a place of “need.” (A distinction in the first volume.) And, if we try to move from want to need, yet still feel subconsciously that our need is really greed, then we will always stay in the “want.” That’s why understanding this distinction can be so important.
In life, we need to always be changing our goals as we achieve them. We never “arrive” because doing so makes us complacent and unhappy. To appear greedy in this progressive journey, then, we must appear to be unappreciative of where we are. When we lose sight of everything we already have, we look greedy to others. But, if we appreciate all that we do have, then strive for even more, we simply look like a mover-and-shaker.
I loved the Hacker’s Manifesto when I was a teenager. I lived by the words of the Mentor. Here’s an excerpt written in January 8, 1986: “This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge, and you call us criminals . . .” [http://www.technozen.com/manifesto.htm]
I took this manifesto to my Grade 6 teacher and friend and showed him how I felt. And he explained to me that there wouldn’t be a service that I could exploit if it “wasn’t” run by “profiteering gluttons.” I made another discovery that day. Our economic system isn’t perfect. We’ll always be upset at getting charged a dollar or two for our banking transactions. But at the end of the day, we always have what other economic systems can’t understand: and that’s consumer choice.
Let's love the world together...
Danish Ahmed, blind visionary