Random Thoughts

Greed (Self-love) Vs. Violence (Intolerance)

Our culture teaches us that selfish is sinful and to love others is virtue. ‘This doctrine is not only in flagrant contradiction to the practices of modern society but it is also in opposition to another set of doctrine that the most powerful and legitimate drive in man is selfishness’. Each individual by following this imperative drive does also the most for the common good. The latter type of ideology declares that selfishness is the arch evil and loves for others the main virtue. Thus ‘selfishness is more or less synonymous with self-love’. So we can alternate it as either to love others is a virtue or to be oneself is a sin and it is identical with selfishness.

According to Calvin’s Theology, ‘man is essentially bad and powerfulness. He can do nothing-absolutely nothing-good on the basis of his own strength or merits. “We are not our own”. Therefore, neither our reason nor our will should predominate in our deliberations and actions. As we are not our own, therefore let us as far as possible, forget ourselves and all things that are ours’. In relation to the above Calvin’s  theology, if we compare with Kant’s philosophy, it realizes that ‘it is a virtue to want the happiness of others, while to want one’s own happiness is ethically indifferent’. Kant also admits that ‘one must not give up one’s claims for happiness; under certain circumstances it can even be duty to be concerned with one’s happiness; partly because health, wealth and the like, can be means which are necessary to fulfill one’s duty, partly because the lack of happiness-poverty-can seduce a person from fulfilling his duty. But love for one-self striving for one’s own happiness, can never be a virtue. It is the most objectionable one, not merely it is because it is false’. Kant differentiates in ‘egotisms, self-love, philautia- benevolence for one-self; and arrogance-the pleasure in one-self must be battered down and humiliated in comparing with the sanctity of more laws. Suppression of the moral laws should make a man a beast and human society should end in wild anarchy. Selfishness must not decide the principles of love, not love motives like mercy, gentleness, good nature, or even justice and equality’. Greed is the result of self-love or selfishness for happiness of one-self. Greed is powerful desire for something (wealth-money, power or food).

Any human society regardless of its religious or other identity does not preach for self-love or greed. In Vedas, Upanisads and other Hindus scriptures, it postulates the guideline of the nature of moral laws to love others for peaceful human society. In his ‘The Religion of Man’ Sri Rabindranath Tagore translates and explains the 1st Shloka of Isa Upanisad-

‘Thou must know whatever moves in this moving world is enveloped by God. And therefore find thy enjoyment in renunciation, never coveting what belongs to others.

In this we are enjoined to realize that all facts that move and change have their significance in their relation to one everlasting truth. For them we can be rid of the greed of acquisition, gladly dedicating everything we have to that Supreme Truth. The change is our mind is immense in its generosity of expression when an utter sense of vanity and vacancy is relived at the consciousness of a pervading unity’.

But today’s India as well as world is very much intolerant and violent. Are we really moving to the world of wild anarchy? No one brother to obey the nature of moral laws for integrated and prosperous society. Every individual is busy to buy his/her own happiness or self-love. We would try to find out what the causes are behind this continued intolerance and violence in India.

The effect of globalization in India is marked by rapid urbanization, mobility of people to urban area, and new employment avenues, etc. It changes life style in everyday life. Acculturation takes place of traditional socio-cultural system; Of course, taboos in traditional culture should leave in the age of science and technology. Ultimately, it cultivates a world of consumerism and people suffer from “Global media bound cultural syndrome” which influences consumerism with particular focus to people belonging to the “consumer class”. It changes the philosophy of happiness to fulfilling want created consumption. And consumerism is the cause of violence.

It is evident that wealth is a great transforming agent, which has the power to cure all. Money is key pillar of this transformation. Money is powerful driving force as well as ‘ugly and unacceptable face of capitalism’. Money is, in and of itself, inert. But everywhere it becomes empowered with special meaning, imbued with special powers. Psychological studies directed the behavior of people towards money and its effect on human relations. Historically, wealth/money is the marker of social and economic relation. Various phases of political system from Slave system to capitalism/imperialism, it occupies pivotal role to determine the human status.

Now education becomes a style statement in the society. The purpose of education turns to firstly a determination of career building for money making and then it has no or little impact of formation of value oriented human being. The teachers are involved in money making process. They are less interested in man making. Parents teach their off-spring from their mothers’ womb to be selfish. They teach their off-spring not to share Tiffin, books and others to their peer/friend. Parents cultivate a competitive mind of selfishness among their younger. But the development of people is determined by an individual’s education and thereafter, his/her involvement in a meaningful employment. Tagore said that human relations are basic parameter of a prosperous society and education would bridge this relation after removal of society from darkness. The knowledge and information would reshape the personality of individual and enhancement of his/her value system would yield a progressive society as well as. Meaningful occupation through education would be the survival strategy. Education for money making would desperately break our value system.

Gradually media bound culture syndrome has taken a prime place in our daily life irrespective of social, economical and educational background. All sections of the society search their happiness through imitation of reel’s heroes and heroines in every sphere of daily life. People imitate foods, fashion and other life style statement. Real heroes/heroines have not any place to shape today’s personality because their pathways teach to sacrifice and love to others. The political leaders are hungry of power and authority. They are involved in social services/well being of people for name, fame and money. Their income increases day by day for their services to the people. Their face value increases through deceiving people with formation of special interest groups. Further, in this self-centered society charity or voluntary work is purposively for name and fame as well as power and prestige. There is a competition everywhere for identity consumption within family and outside. Rigidity, arrogance and so forth are taking place of patience. Greed of power, authority and wealth direct the happiness of people in this globalised consumerized world. Thus, there is no bar of age for committing indulgences, intolerance and violence.

Healthy interpersonal human relations in terms of value and dignity (beyond money) could not weave a sustainable social and economic development. The truncated and self-centered human relations which are also wealth/money based never save our humanity.

In fact, we do not leave money as symbol of individual living. Side by side, occupation based on education would be actual basis of quality judgment of healthy living. Education, money and human values are altogether healthy factor of human status and human relations. But money proportionate to status cultivates violence/corruption and it is the demon of future of human society. Present social and economic situation reminds us;

‘Money gave value
to a piece of paper and now
that piece of paper itself
is evaluating man!’


More by :  Dr. Harasankar Adhikari

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