When greed is all consuming

I TRULY believe life is all about finding meaning as a balancing act between order and chaos, between the familiar and the unknown, between good and evil and between the state and the politicians.

The road bumps and humps are only pauses not periods and they teach you a lesson or two just as lobsters teach us about stress and change.

We (now) live in a blessed country where the need to mince words is taken over by plain speaking and the spade is settled to be called a spade. Everyone is free to voice their opinions which means we the netizens are tasked with the unenviable need for expertise and wisdom to discriminate between what is true, what looks like the truth but is not. Fake news and information are generated to add excitement by a fraction of our community and worldwide whose ulterior motives are apparent sometimes.

When one thinks life is a parable with nothing but only ugliness, people generally see it justified to resort to drastic responses and actions and Russian author Leo Tolstoy saw existence as so absurdly unjust that he suggested there were only four valid responses to such situations: ignorance, hedonistic pleasure, suicide or struggling on despite all.

Personally, on analysis, Tolstoy found suicide the most appropriate but we are here to live and make a difference, so suicide is deleted from the equation. Having said that, despite the bleak worldview and no matter how much you might have suffered and however cruel and unjust you find life to be, you should not blame the world.

Politicians who are embroiled in calamities have only themselves to blame as they know the only sure thing in politics is the downfall when excesses and extremes are adopted with no checks and balances.

We have individuals, when having fallen into a suicidal pit, feel that the world is conspiring against them and refuse to admit defeat and wrong.

The story of the "Monkey and the cookie jar" comes to my mind. A monkey sees a cookie jar filled with cookies. The jar has a very narrow neck but in the zest to have the cookies the monkey puts his hand into the jar and grabs a fist full of cookies. He is unable to remove his hand from the jar because his fist has grown too large with the cookies. He is trapped. He has a choice; leave the cookies and escape or keep trying to salvage his hand and the cookies and risk being caught red-handed with theft.

Sounds familiar? The choice would be the toughest for people smitten with insatiability and they would go to any length to have them all.

The story is my favourite which I would relate to my students to convey the simple moral value of how greed leads to ruin. On the flip side, what is the "circuit-breaker" between success and greed?

My simple logic tells me that anything that is selfish in nature and the excessive desire for more of something than needed, can constitute greed. Business people may disagree with this frivolous definition as for them success and money are interrelated and their view in that context is acceptable.

In short, when one truthfully asks "how much is enough", the answer can open up a plethora of responses and surprises.

Greed is essentially, a mental illness just as much as obsessive compulsive disorder is as decreed by experts in mental health.

People who have a fad for expensive items and hoard these items need medical intervention.

If we look at politicians as one of us, or who might have been like us when they started, they all pursue power and all politicians without exception are obliged to make compromises. However, the acid test of any politician's integrity is when they draw the line in terms of what is not up for negotiations. Politics is after all the art of the impossible and frankly, those who are in politics for accumulation of power and wealth will lose out, sooner than they think.

Ancient Greek philosopher Plato contends that one of the most fundamental ethical and political concepts is justice, a complex and ambiguous concept.

And it is suggested that the first definition of justice is "speaking the truth and repaying what one has borrowed".

If only this was adopted as a creed by the people who were running the country …

Comments: letters@thesundaily.com