Ambition and Greed

What is the difference between ambition and greed?

I think it is, indeed, very difficult to define. I looked on the net (my best companion nowadays) for the distinction between the two. Also I can only try to analyze this from my personal experiences and in the Indian concept of life.

One statement says Simply put, ambition serves a purpose while greed is self-serving’. Another one says ‘Greed is the intense and selfish desire to achieve money, power, or status. Ambition is the desire and determination to achieve success.’ To me these are not quite convincing!

Almost all definitions and explanations are quite vague and incongruous. To be candid to one’s own self, every individual should have self analysis to some extent. I think that most of us lack. We never indulge in that. Sure, some do it but, it will be mostly biased. It cannot be avoided also.

In the Indian context, I find most of the population is either simply colorless, or those who can think, many times turn greedy or too ambitious to be called as avaricious. This I will explain with certain examples which I have seen in my life.

To get educated to the best of our ability and have a family, house and wealth to take care of our needs is ambition. But, when it crosses like I should earn enough to sustain my family to be a millionaire by hook or by crook, in place of one good house to live to own many houses, (A person I know owns nearly 20 houses in Chennai!) in place of having few pieces of gold, I should have kilos of gold, my children all should get the best education irrespective of their ability or potential distinguish ambition from greed.

Since quite sometime, we see food served in buffet style so that anyone can choose what they like and how much they can consume according to their choice. I know people, highly educated and from elite family backgrounds grab as much as possible on their plates only to be discarded later because they cannot eat so much. In my office one of my colleagues used to indent paper, notebooks, pens from the stores for use; he had acquired so much of these that at one stage all the papers had become colored and couldn’t be used and the notebooks were completely rejected by all. This happens with indenting chemicals also.

I can criticize myself as a third person today because I was very fond of dressing up well. So I purchased many shirts and pants which at one stage after the years long pandemic turned totally useless and I have distributed them to the people around me who cannot afford to buy them. Same with pens about which I have written already. Then watches, again it was greed to own many and now I feel they are just redundant though some I have parted with. I can extend it to my collection of books which now I keep donating to libraries. At the dusk of my life, I feel now ashamed of my ‘greed’ and ‘desire’ crossing the limits of ambition.

Though India is considered to be a philosophical country, I find here even intelligentsia are greedy and idiots are ambitious. That is because the very demarcation line between ‘ambition’ and ‘greed’ is slender and gets blurred invariably.

But, ultimately ambition or greed ‘Life’ is just a question of ‘Luck’.

Nevertheless, I am really bowled over by this quote: ‘Ambition is Greed without Makeup’.


More by :  G Swaminathan

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