Greed is known as an excessively strong desire that we humans feel towards something. We can usually differentiate ‘greed’ from ‘ambition’ by examining the extent of means that a person takes to obtain his wants. When a person dares to take rather unethical or very self-centred methods, such as putting other fellows at disadvantage in order to place himself on top, his action is considered greedy. Being understood with a negative connotation, greed is therefore often destructive: To the third party, to the self or even both. On the other hand, it is also increasingly admitted that this desire so intense to succeed has effectively produced desired results, thereby justifying the benefits of being greedy. There is even the saying that goes, ‘The end justifies the means,’ an apt statement to advocate greed. I do not deny the many satisfying results that people have achieved as a result of being a little more greedy, namely in economic, political and academic arenas.
However, the justification of greed as a ‘necessary tool’ for survival in today’s fiercely competitive society and overshadowing of ethnics is a growing concern regarding the question of whether greed is really good. I believe that greed, while it can be a good catalyst to spur us onto achieving our goals, can often give in detrimental impacts on both individuals and society. Perhaps the best reason for advocating that greed is good would be its ability to spur a person, a firm or a society for success. It can be noticed easily when we examine how many influential inventions of today have come about. Most of them are products of their inventors’ desperate desire to earn profits. Many Research and Development firms have undoubtedly played a crucial role in bringing in more efficient services and satisfaction to their customers, regardless of the firms’ primary motives for money. Thanks to the firms’ strong drive for better products and services, we, customers, have been able to enjoy a more convenient lifestyle.
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However, psychologically, one’s ethnic judgment can be disturbed by greed. Because the yearning for achievement is so intense, one often neglects or overlooks moral values, blinded by the powerful psychological drive to succeed: Air, land and water pollution caused mainly by inconsiderate, profit-driven firms producing too much and recycling too little; America’s “self-initiated” war in Afghanistan for crude oil; Human experiments carried out by the Nazi and Japanese during the World War II for their own medical research. Far too often, the people and firms who have crossed the ethnic lines for greed have resulted in woeful consequences in one way or another: Global warming and climate change is happening at an accelerating rate, affecting the lifestyles of almost all creatures, including us, on the earth. Thousands of innocent Afghanistan are killed, subjected to racial discrimination or denied basic necessities during the war.
Through the human experiments, the victims and their descendants have experienced their human rights being grotesquely violated and developed resentment towards particular groups of race. These examples may seem to be a mere extreme representation of greed but still, they clearly alert that the significant risks of being greedy lie in almost all aspects – in environmental, political and social aspects. Thus, it may not be as well wrong to assume that similar forms of destruction can happen anytime on any scale as long as humans’ greedy behaviours continue. Another rising concern would be the changing paradigm of what we previously understood ‘greed’ was. With better accessibility in obtaining information in today’s much-wired world, the public has started grasping the role of greed as a motivator spurring people on to succeed in achieving their wants, biographies and television and magazine interviews about successful, greed-orientated people being some of the dominant sources.
Therefore, ‘greed’ may no longer be considered a principle that should be utterly avoided but rather, a principle that can hopefully spice up one’s motivation. What is troublesome about this justification is that the value of greed can be largely inflated and misunderstood, causing the risky pools of greed to expand further. This means the potential damages, harms and number of victims resulted from greed-initiated activities might soar, which are often destructive in one way or another. Although admittedly greed may guarantee one’s achievement of goals, if being greedy is taken for granted for anyone’s desire to succeed, the chance of greed abuse may soar. Eventually, the blatant ‘worshipping’ of ‘greed’ may bring in more disastrous consequences than ever.
In conclusion, it can be observed that greed can be both good and bad in terms of its consequences and motives. However, in my opinion, greed has got more harmful impacts on us and our surroundings than its benefits. A single person or firm’s excessive desire to achieve something disseminates undesirable impacts on many others. Furthermore, once people’s general view on greed starts to shift from ‘disapproving’ to ‘relative’ or even ‘approving’ due to its attractive ability to spur them on, the risks and number of ‘victims’ might even soar further. Therefore, as far as greed’s outweighed harms and destructive potential is concerned, I do not believe that greed is good to a large extent.