Self Reflection

One of the reasons I bought the house I did was because of the pecan tree in the backyard.  Located on the SW side of the house, not only did it provide shade in the summer, but it also dropped its leaves at exactly the correct time each year to let in more light for the winter.  And to top it off, some years, when there is a decent amount of rain (for West Texas) it even drops food right by your feet in a protective shell, which gives you time before it rots to store it and process it. Extremely minimal amount of work that anyone could do if they had enough time.

 

But most of us either don't have the time, don't want to wait for a tree to grow, don't own the property, don't like pecans, or a hundred other reasons.

 

Our consumerist and debt-based society has left many of us discombobulated.  Many would like to grow a garden, or fix our own car, or learn something new- how to weld, how to knit, how to play the piano, how to speak Russian, how to put up solar panels, how to communicate better with our partners or our parents or kids, how to make a video game, how to... whatever... These aren't worthless endeavors, but often the only way we can pursue these dreams is if they are part of a job.  And then, they are often not self-directed- which means a lot of the challenge and purpose is lost.

Much of my life has been devoted to understanding why this tension exists and if it's necessary.  Work- our paid work- is necessary, no?  Well, certainly some of it is- certain people feed us, keep our houses warm, bring water to the tap.  But if you're like me, many of our jobs have been... well... perhaps not as necessary... perhaps even superfluous or sometimes even counter to our dreams.  In other words, not only do we often hate our jobs because they may be hard or dirty or whatever, but we also think the job shouldn't be done.  This is not a good situation.  How did we get to this point in history?

Greed is not a virtue, no matter how much some would wish it so.  Greed does not mean ambition, desire or achievement- at least in the way I think most people understand those terms.

 

Matthew 6:19- "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal."

 

Mark 10:25- "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

 

Donald Trump- "My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy. I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy."

 

Joe Biden- "I think you should be able to become a billionaire and a millionaire."

 

Nancy Pelosi on lawmakers trading stock- "We are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that."

 

We can't take it with us when we go.  What else is there than leaving the World a better place than how we found it?

 

Getting to Pelosi's statement more specifically with regard to lawmakers- you all are some of the most powerful people in the World. It's about trust.  Donald Trump- 'No one wants to see my taxes.' It's about trust. Hillary Clinton not releasing her Goldman Sachs speeches. It's about trust. 

 

Is there a deficit of trust in today's World?  

 

That being said, I don't think most people are driven first and foremost by greed. When Bob says to his co-worker- "Tom does way less work than I do, but gets paid way more."- this isn't primarily an argument about wanting more, it's an argument about justice.  Bob and Tom could be making slave wages or be hedge fund managers.

 

This type of localized concern about justice can be comforting if we blind ourselves to the World around us.  What are our duties to those we have never met?  Which people count as 'us' and 'them'?  Should there be an 'us and 'them'? This is the realm of religion and the realm of politics.  The realm of economics and education.  Of law and foreign affairs.  The realm of self-reflection.

“No, I don’t want to think about it,” he [Trump] said when Mr. D’Antonio asked him to contemplate the meaning of his life. “I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see.”  

Briefly on Alasdair MacIntyre's economics

Living in my car
00:00 / 15:34
MacIntyre & Greed
00:00 / 10:30
Ayn Rand, Libertarianism
00:00 / 09:59