I couldn’t decide whether to entitle this article “Greed” or “Power and Money”, but in thinking about their connectedness, I opted to combine the words.
One dictionary defines greed as “an excessive, extreme desire for something” but defines greedy as “having a strong desire for food or drink.” Most of us have observed the behavior of greedy folks around free food or drink, so we might agree with this limited definition. However, a more expansive and inclusive definition of greedy is ”excessively or inordinately desirous of wealth, profit, etc.” People can be greedy about anything: food, drink, dishes, clothes, shoes, jewels, furniture, houses, property, cars, money, friends, enemies, servants, jobs, praise, etc.
Greed often becomes the bedfellow of power. Power – defined as “control, authority, or influence over others”, can be attained through greedy deeds. Money, as a measure of wealth that may be acquired through greed, is too often equated with power. Those possessing a lot of money may be perceived and treated as powerful, while those lacking a lot of money may be perceived and treated as powerless.
The English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) wrote a poem expressing passionate love for a person. Most of the lines from this poem appear below, but I’VE substituted “money, power, greed” for the word “thee” in her poem. The rewritten poem gives a glimpse (exaggerated as it may be) into the minds of those obsessed with money, power and greed. The rewritten poem could be entitled By Greed, Money, and Power Possessed.
“How do I love (money, power, greed)? Let me count the ways.
I love (money, power, greed) to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love (money, power, greed) to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love (money, power, greed) freely, as men strive for Right:
I love (money, power, greed) purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love (money, power, greed) with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
…I love (money, power, greed) with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!…
I shall but love (money, power, greed) better after death. “
My mom always said when talking about material and immaterial things and death, “You can’t take it with you.” Now, ain’t that the truth?