Definition of Greed

Greed n.
An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.

I recently tore this definition a new A-hole. Put me in front of a dictionary full of cool words, and I'll have a field day. This one is particularly interesting because I basically proved it to mean the opposite of what everyone thinks it means.

The whole definition would have been dandy up to this point
An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs

But then it goes and adds
or deserves

I read that and thought, how can I tell you what I deserve? I can't, and I definitely can't tell you what YOU deserve. This makes the whole definition completely objective. Take, for instance, a CEO of one of the richest companies, who just wants the company to keep getting richer and richer, so their paycheck keeps getting bigger and bigger. I think that this person greedy. However, the whole deserves clause in the definition above makes this impossible to consider.

I can say, without anybody getting too upset, that everything that I have right now, I deserved. The $184.23 worth of my life savings, the guitars, computers, the car, clothes, everything I have. I deserve it since I worked for it and was able to afford it. Now, let me make this statement 10 years down the road. I deserve the $207.87 worth of life savings, the few extra guitars, more computers, same car, more clothes, everything I have. I deserve it since I had the means to acquire it. Fair enough?

Now, what about someone who can't afford these things. My buddy Doug used, as an example, a teenager who got knocked up and is working as a waitress for $3.50 / hr plus tips. Is it WRONG for them to want to be able to afford college? If they can't, do they DESERVE it?!

What I deserve in my life I will eventually acquire. Does the opposite hold, where if I don't acquire something, then it means I didn't deserve it? Surely, our waitress deserves the opportunity to give herself a better life. Our "greedy" CEO, who is in fact rich beyond any of our mental capacities, deserves everything he or she gained, through his or her hard work, education, and all that other good stuff.

To desire beyond that of which we deserve. By that definition, our waitress is the greedy one. If she cannot afford it, she won't acquire it. Since, what I am able to acquire, I can say I deserved, this waitress won't be able to acquire college education (our example), so we can argue that she didn't deserve it. Yet, she desires it. This is a perfect fit with the above definition of greed.

This is overly cruel, you might say. I'm just being philosophical :) Now, you ask the dictionary people if that's a fair definition of the word "greed".

blog comments powered by Disqus