2009 – Most Philosophical 7th Grader in America.

Leah Yates Weisgal, Massachusetts.

Greed or Giving: Which Has a Greater Impact on Society?

Giving influences the world, but greed’s monstrous impact cannot be equaled. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the Crusades to the exploration of the New World, every single significant event of recorded human history has greed as its centerpiece. Self-indulgence has driven society throughout the centuries and is woven through the works of great thinkers in every culture: Continual property disputes and aggression going back nearly 6000 years created the societal structure of Judeo-Christian hierarchy as recorded in the Torah. All wars are fought over money and gluttony according to Plato, while Hinduism categorizes greed as one of the “gates to the underworld.”

Why is it that although generosity is encouraged in every culture, religion and society, the voracious takers seems to run roughshod over the givers? Perhaps it is because greed begets power, leading to a cycle of aggression and insatiability. People who give do not necessarily influence or exert power over others; giving can be done in complete privacy. Conversely, those who take influence others in order to take more and in the process create more takers in our society.

The greedy need more and more; they are never satisfied. An example of this is our current economic crisis. The economy is in recession, causing the general public to suffer. Although many people are having difficulty covering the costs of basic necessities such as food and shelter, the high ranking financiers on Wall Street are receiving multi-million dollar bonuses. Although many of them already have the money necessary for an amply comfortable life, greed has overtaken them. They achieved influence in our government, making laws to protect their system, their assets, and to help them acquire yet more.

History is compiled of events that would not have occurred without greed as a motive. Giving is a wonderful thing, but altruism’s sphere of influence is small compared with the negative impact greed dumps on the inhabitants of this world. As Hinduism states, “the real enticement is the insatiable appetite of the mind.”


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