Greed, Selfishness, and Happy Thanksgiving

I am seriously tired of greed and selfishness. Seriously. Maybe I’m getting old and grumpy, but since when has a pizza become more important than a man’s life? What makes one man think that just because he compiled a stack of millions by systematically cheating his customers and robbing his employees, that we’ll vote him into office so he can help others do the same? Or more on my level, why is buying a mega-screen TV for a Christmas present more important than spending Thanksgiving with family? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to hug that person and fix him a nice dinner than buy still another TV? Then use the money saved on the TV to buy dinner for a whole boatload of homeless people. Who really needs another TV anyway?

Who gets the blame for people who think their wants are more important than everyone else’s? Who honestly thinks they’re Master of the Universe and we all should drive like you, eat like you, worship like you, or whatever your current selfish pet peeve might be? And please don’t talk to me about this out-of-control Me-ism being the fault of the parents or because people don’t go to church anymore. Some of the worst offenders are people who have been shepherded through religious services by caring, if possibly clueless, parents and believe that theirs is the only religion that’s right. Clueless. No thought. No ability to think outside themselves.

How do we teach our children that what they want isn’t necessarily what they need or deserve? I don’t think turning off TV is the solution. This kind of irrational idiocy has prevailed throughout history. But we’re in the 21st century! Shouldn’t we have reached an age of education and civilization by now? How did Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln develop into well-rounded, educated, insightful men in a system that supported ignorance and slavery? Yes, I know they didn’t always reach the right conclusions, and they had their flaws, but they were still able to see outside themselves to what the country as a whole needed. Where are those men who put their country before themselves?

Maybe instead of the 3 R’s (I’ve always despised that ignorant cliché), we need to be teaching kids how to think. Instead of asking them how many apples in a bushel if ten apples equal a peck, we should ask them how many apples they think they can eat and how many they can give the kid who doesn’t have any. And then ask them what happens if that kid learns he can always get free apples and if there isn’t a better way of distributing apples.  Oh yeah, that’s probably socialism or communism or too difficult to grade on tests so let’s just go back to not thinking and not disturb the status quo.

And therein may be the crux of the problem. Thinking isn’t easy or painless. So let’s turn off our brains and go back to our regularly recorded message: buy my book.

Or: shut the full  cup:   So, there are a few people out there who get it!

If anyone knows a good path out of our current selfish state, please, start spreading the word and post here!




Greed, Selfishness, and Happy Thanksgiving — 5 Comments

  1. “But we’re in the 21st century! Shouldn’t we have reached an age of education and civilization by now?”

    I don’t think so, because unselfishness is not a trait that mankind, as a species, will ever evolve. It’s something that each individual has to learn and struggle to acquire — and then pass on to the next generation or any others who are in our sphere of influence.

    Yes, it can be very depressing to witness the crazy, materialistic frenzy that many people indulge in the day after Thanksgiving. But just to inject a little hope people with an opposite world view do exist. The people who trample each other at Walmart make the evening news. Those who are building a culture of unselfishness, who are caring for and sharing with others — all year long — don’t get the same kind of coverage.


  2. Thank you, CB, a word of hope in the turmoil of front page news does ease the feeling that the world is doomed. 🙂

    But I do believe unselfishness can be taught, and we are falling down on the job. As we are falling down on the job of educating our children in general. I am not blaming teachers, by all means. They’re under the gun. But more people need to understand that we can’t change all parents, so education has to come from society.

  3. I agree. But it’s so hard to teach people how to think when it’s easier not to think. What I’ve realized teaching this semester is that so many of my students never question a very simple fallacy that’s shown up in so many of their papers – the “I enjoy this so it must be good,” fallacy. This is the same one as “I find this difficult, so I shouldn’t have to do it.” The culture of complacency is very anti-intellectual, because thinking is hard, therefore it must be bad.

  4. My daughter, aged 16, has reached the part of the program where she’s extremely conflicted about the Black Friday thing, in which many of her friends participate. This year we’re talking about Small Business Saturday in my house–going out and buying selectively from local businesses. A year ago this might not have been possible, but at 16 she has developed a walloping case of social responsibility, which does a mother’s heart good. Along with her usual complement of Christmas presents, this year I’m going to make a Kiva loan in her name, because I think she’d adore it. But there’s so much agitation to spend and have, that raising a kid to question the Greed is Good short-term thinking narrative is really swimming up stream.

  5. Peer pressure is a terrible thing, and that drives so many kids until they reach an age of reason. They need to be taught from birth, but the parents haven’t been, so they’re mostly not aware enough. I don’t know how we break this cycle. Thinking and giving are such blessings, they shouldn’t be so hard!