Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Yin and Yang of Greed and Envy

The political left likes to hurl the epithet that those on the right, Republicans in particular, are greedy. Greed, one of the seven deadly sins enumerated by the Catholic Church, is defined as the overwhelming desire to have more of something, frequently money, than one actually needs.

In Chinese philosophy there is the concept of yin and yang. Yin, a so-called feminine principal, has connotations of darkness and negativity. Its polar opposite is the principal of yang, which denotes light, heat, motivation and masculinity. Both concepts are believed to exist in some balance in all things. If this is true, then greed has a yin and a yang too.

A little greed, where yang dominates, is a good thing. Someone who wants more of something and is willing to do the work necessary to earn that thing should feel no shame in pursuing it, as long as it is not pursued through illegal or immoral means, i.e., no force or fraud. These people are the ambitious ones, the entrepreneurs and strivers. In their ambition to get ahead, they bring a lot of the rest of us along with them, as they build the businesses that will help them realize their ambitions. Those businesses provide jobs. Were there no such thing as greed, civilization would not exist.

The yin form of greed is the one I see at work on the left. This form is the one that desires to have more without being willing to do the work for it. This is the form that demands that one’s every want and need be provided for and believes that it is the job of government to provide it. The problem of course is that the government cannot provide anything to one person that it did not first take from someone else. This kind of greed is also a form of arrogance. What is it about the left makes them think that their priorities, their wants and needs are so important that it justifies taking money earned by one person, who is willing to do the work to provide for his own wants and needs, essentially at gunpoint, to spend it on the wants and needs of someone else?

This brings us to another of the seven deadlies, envy. Envy is defined as wanting something someone else has. It’s a kissing cousin of greed. Once again though, there is a yin and a yang that comes into play.

Envy in its yang form can be a positive motivator. I may see something that another person has and desire to have it myself. For example I’d love to have an airplane and seeing another’s airplane makes me a little envious. However, that just serves as inspiration and example. I reason that the owner of that airplane has worked hard and done some things right and that airplane is his reward for hard work and good decisions. If I also work hard and make good decisions, one day I may be able to buy a plane like his (and maybe he’ll want to sell his to me so he can trade up). I would never think to just take it away from him.

The dark or yin form of envy is, once again, the one I see rearing its ugly head on the left. This is the form that resents that some people may have more than others, resentful to the point that those on the left would seek to deprive those they perceive as having something they don’t of their rightfully earned money or property. If we can’t have it, you can’t either. It is at the heart of class warfare rhetoric. Once again, it is driven by a lack of willingness to put forth the effort necessary to be able to have more money or a bigger home or that private jet yet seeks to prevent their acquisition by those that are willing and able to work harder.

Are those on the right greedy? Speaking for myself, the answer is yes if we’re talking about the yang form. Guilty as charged. I want to have more. I may not, strictly speaking, need more money right now to live comfortably, but if I don’t make more than I need now and set it aside so that I might provide for my future needs (yes, I’d like to retire some day) when will I? However, the form of greed I see coming from the left sickens me. It’s a bottomless sense of entitlement to whatever the left feels as its due, fueled by extreme and unreasoning envy of the most productive members of society. It’s a very ugly, relentlessly negative form of politics and only diminishes society as a whole. I want no part of that thank you.

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Megan B-G said...

Excellent analysis Brother J

Erick said...

Excellent comment and agree with Megan B-G. Will fwd to many others! Good writing.

Michael Scelsi said...

The Yin and Yang of the seven deadly sins - very nice. Interesting analysis.

Oh, in the last paragraph when you ask if the right is greedy, I think you mean to say the "yang" form rather than the "yin".

Brother J said...

Mike, right you are (fixed). Nice catch I probalby meant to stick the word "not" in front of it but it reads better this way.