Wanting More Than What We Need Can Be Destructive
Wanting more than what we need is greed. This avarice is destructive, as seen in the examples of King Midas, the obesity which characterizes American society, and the corporate greed which contributes to the economic downturn.
Wanting more than what we need, or greed, to be more precise, has always been a part of the human psyche. In some people, this urge becomes an insatiable appetite which dictates their motives and actions. The desire to accumulate material things, such as food and wealth, or the urge to gather power and prestige, is inherent in man. History is replete with the accounts of personalities, from Marie Antoinette to Adolf Hitler, who let avarice over-ride their lives – almost always with disastrous consequences. In contemporary times, corporate greed, and the obsession with political power, wreaks havoc on the world. Several examples demonstrate that wanting more than what we need can be destructive.
One of the earliest examples of the destructive consequences of greed is the story of King Midas in Greek mythology. Midas is a King who rules a kingdom of great prosperity, and is abundantly blessed with all the good things of life. As a reward for his kindness towards an old satyr, he is rewarded by the God Dionysus, who grants him a wish. King Midas wishes for the golden touch: everything he touches should turn into gold. Once his wish is granted, King Midas realizes the tragic consequences of his avarice: the flowers in his garden lose their fragrance and turn into gold, his food becomes inedible gold and his beloved daughter, on being hugged by her father, is transformed into a golden statue. King Midas admits his greed and foolishness and begs Dionysus to release him from his cursed gift. The God obliges and a chastened King Midas happily and generously rules his kingdom. (Parks and Corbett, 1997).
The rampant obesity which runs through contemporary society is another illustration of the destructive nature of avarice. With the easy availability of different types of food in the modern environment, Americans are accustomed to eat more than what is needed. Oversized food portions, the omnipresent fast-food joints and the advertising gimmicks used by companies which manufacture high-calorie, high-fat snacks combine to make a large proportion of American society obese. This is compounded by a largely sedentary lifestyle. Obesity leads to increased risk of medical complications, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Eating more than what is necessary to maintain optimum physical health leads to deteriorating health and lowers the quality of life.
The destructive repercussion of avarice is evident in the corporate greed which is a leading contributing factor to the present economic downturn. The seventy-three AIG employees who received a minimum of $ one million in bonuses, at a time when AIG was a beneficiary of a Government bailout, illustrate the absolute lack of integrity in a corporate world ruled by greed and selfishness. The fact that the Government bailouts are funded by tax payers money, and those same tax payers are in the clutches of major economic hardship, does not feature in the decision to grant bonuses (Stern, 2009). This corporate greed is the cause of the low esteem in which Wall Street is now held, and the Occupy Wall Street Movement which targets the same organizations which indulge in the unethical pursuit of excess wealth.
While wanting more than what we need can be destructive, it must be accepted that ambition, and the desire to attain great wealth and power, is not always equated with greed. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are living examples of great wealth being put to charitable purposes. Ambition turns into greed only when the accumulation of wealth is at the cost of the suffering of others, and is accomplished through unfair means. Avarice always turns on the person who indulges in it and causes ruin. It is an irrefutable fact that contentment is one of the surest ways to happiness in life.
NHLBI. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. November 1, 2010. What Causes Overweight
and Obesity? Retrieved from
Parks, James and Sally Corbett. 1998. King Midas. Highland Park Elementary School.
Stern, Linda. March 25, 2009. The Greater Greed. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from