Today’s financial meltdown has brought the issue of greed front and center in our collective awareness. However, like the word "integrity," the word "greed" is being wildly thrown about without really defining it.
There are two forms of greed that are largely responsible for damaging the fabric of our society: "Financial Greed" and "Special Interest Greed."
1. Financial Greed (Obsession With Profit)
Financial Greed takes two main forms:
a) Profiteering: Getting people to use a product or service no matter how this damages them — or, better yet, get them addicted to needing that product or service.
b) Debtism: Counting on an uncertain future to pay for obsessive growth in the present.
Financial Greed is driven by deep distortions about what creates fulfillment. Profiteering maintains that profitability justifies damaging people or the planet. Debtism places the responsibility on future generations to foot the bill for present excesses. Both are profoundly dysfunctional and unsustainable distortions of true capitalism.
As I have written in previous posts, our massive distortions about what creates life fulfillment are what has made it possible for Debtism to poison our economic system by replacing healthy capitalism.
2. Special Interest Greed (Narcissism)
Special Interest Greed is wanting what I want regardless of its impact on the collectives of which I am a part (families, communities, businesses, countries and the global community). This includes everything from congressional lobbying to individuals expecting to be taken care of rather than being self-responsible, or feeling entitled to benefits without putting out the work to earn them. Another word for Special Interest Greed is "Narcissism."
We have tolerated and even indulged Special Interest Greed of all kinds because our understanding of integrity has become vague and distorted to such an extreme that this sacred word (integrity) has become nearly meaningless.
Narcissism and Obsession with Profit Make Dangerous Bedfellows
Special Interest Greed and Financial Greed have combined to create the financial mess we are now in. Even though Debtism has been expanding unchecked for decades, only now are we beginning to experience just how devastating the consequences of greed actually are. Greed isn’t merely wrong in some abstract philosophical way. It isn’t simply a value that isn’t admirable. On a practical real life level it is profoundly dangerous to the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities, countries and our planet.
Creating Solutions Requires Greed-Busting: Until we start recognizing greed for what it really is, and stop tolerating as a society these two particularly dangerous forms of greed, we will remain unable to co-create truly sustainable solutions to the profound problems greed has created at all levels of society. Understanding the principles of Integrity-Centered Life Fulfillment, and developing the life skills that "natural developers" have shown us are necessary for attaining it, forms the blueprint for repairing the damage that greed has created.
My three-award-winning book, "The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World" provides a solution: a comprehensive road tested blueprint for becoming a Greed-Buster and for Integrity-Centered living, working, loving and serving — that is, life fulfillment!