Can we talk? About greed?

GREED. That’s a strong word, I know. It’s not one we mention or even see mentioned very often. I think we are making a mistake, however, by avoiding it.

Sculpture: Deadly Sins (Snowglobes): Greed, Pure Products USA, by Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese, Eyebeam Open Studios Fall 2009 / 20091023.10D.55558.P1.L1.SQ / SML
Creative Commons License See-ming Lee via Compfight

Do you notice when the feelings of greed get a hold of you? I have been trying to pay attention to when I feel greedy. When I place my needs ahead of the needs of others (it’s easiest when they are faceless and nameless). When I feel like I “need” something or even “want” something so badly that I am willing to grab it before someone else does. Or when I decide I want whatever it is and the heck with the consequences.

You deserve a break today.

I’m worth it.

Sometimes I justify my desire by telling myself I “deserve” it. I worked so hard last week, that I “deserve” to drive miles across town to see a movie. I have noticed all these advertising campaigns telling me over and over how I “earned” x (fill in the blank for yourself) or how I “deserve” to “reward” myself. Well since it’s the advertising industry telling me that, and not my best friend, I have to wonder: why are they telling me that. Oh right, it’s because it’s their job to sell me stuff.

Treat yourself this Mother’s Day.

Treat yourself to the best.

 

Greed operates most freely when I have been tricked into believing the myth of scarcity—that there isn’t enough for me and for you. To the winner go the spoils. Winner takes all. It’s a competition, a race to the top. And of course, there isn’t room for all of us at “the top,” wherever that is.

This is a dangerous path to tread. Not only dangerous to those around me (and those far away as I externalize the price of meeting my needs) but dangerous to me. To who I am inside, to my humanity. As soon as I let greed take over, I am stepping all over not just the other human beings around me, but also the human being inside of me.

We are fooled into believing that greed can get us ahead, that it makes our lives better, easier, more successful. We can look to Wall Street*, and sometimes even Main Street, for examples of the champions of such material and financial “success.” But the reality is that greed leads us away from a human (or humane) path. When we act on greed, we are  controlled by it, and we are collaborating with an oppressive system that makes some of us winners and many many others losers. We are selling out the human inside of us, in order to feed our inner consumer. The one, incidentally, that is never satiated.

stop greed

http://lenabenjamin.com/politics-greed-and-authenticity/

What do we do about it? We can begin by recognizing the damage it causes us all. The way our greed affects others—many of whom we will never, ever know. And the way it eats at our insides. We get to face the fears that this profit-oriented society uses to keep us in line rather than running from those fears in belief. Is it true that there is not enough for us all? Is it true that in order for you to win, I must lose?

That’s why I say: open our hearts to greed. Open our hearts to it so we may see it and know it. Introduce yourself. Get acquainted with it. Let our greed know that we aren’t going to let it call the shots. Not if you we help it.

*Nearly 40 percent of financial services employees working on Wall Street for 10 years or less said they would engage in insider trading to make $10 million — if they knew they could get away with it, according to the survey conducted by the law firm Labaton Sucharow.

When do you feel greedy? Like you want whatever-it-is at any price? What are you prepared (or not prepared) to give up? Can you tell the toll greed takes on you? Let’s get the conversation going, and if you have already started this conversation in your community, well done. It’s time. Share your thoughts. Please click on the title of the post above, to go to its page and post your comment.

Hello Again

Sorry to have been out of touch. No, enjoyandinspire.com emails haven’t gotten buried in your spam folder—it’s just been a while since I have written. Not since leaving Tepoztlán, México.

The household items and clothes we leave behind are loaded on Chano's truck.

The household items and clothes we leave behind are loaded on Chano’s truck.

 

IMG 2716
Bags are packed.

Back home now. We’ve been stateside for over four months. Back in the good old US of A. Back in our not-so-comfortable comfort-zone.

We had a lot to catch-up with upon our arrival. An arrival which was delayed by 24 hours because we were leaving Mexico illegally. (But that’s a story for another time.) Our house was being painted and we had to move everything back in. The days flew by in a blur. Lea jumped back into 4th grade for the last 10 days of school. I was immediately taking care of maintenance issues in the apartments. And Kimberly was filing paperwork with the school district. It was as if we parachuted onto the top of a moving bus (as Bond must have done that in one episode or another), and were trying to keep our balance in the wind—all whilst unpacking our luggage and reclaiming our home. (Truth is, there is still lots of things we haven’t unpacked or organized since being home.)

Those relaxed Mexican days seem so far behind us now! The school year is underway. Lea has transferred her new-found fútbol skills to the local youth soccer league. Kimberly is teaching in a new school. And everyone is busy! Busy, busy, busy. It’s the common affliction of our 21st century society.

Back in Tepoztlán, it’s general practice to stop and greet every person you meet. To talk about the weather, ask about the family, wish one another a fine day. Here, it’s a matter of saying “letscatchupsometime” to everyone we meet and hoping that we actually get the chance!

How do you manage life the busy-ness of life in early 21st century US of A? How do find time to you take care of yourself, of your family, of your community in this society where we are so busy working and “getting things done”? What have you figured out to better match your priorities with how you spend your time? And what obstacles do you face in trying to do so? I’d like to know! :-)  Share your thoughts. Please click on the title of the post above, to go to its page and post your comment.

Comfort versus Growth

That Sadness That Requires Solitude 

“Theres no comfort in the growth zone and there’s no growth in the comfort in the growth zone.”

A lesson I learned in my time co-facilitating a class on identity and social justice at UW-Madison. Click here for a 4-minute student-produced video on the class.

I have to say, if discomfort is a sign of growth, I haven’t been growing this much since adolescence!

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