17 October, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins and Their Real-Life Consequences, Part 2: Greed

In the first post in this series, the consequences of lust were discussed... naturally. Now, however, it's time to move on... to another sin of excess. A sin that is often committed by people whom we Christians (unfortunately) share a political party with. It's an obsession with material wealth, a sin where instead of controlling our possessions, we let our possessions control us. That sin is greed. Why is greed a sin, you may ask? Well, while some of greed's real-life consequences simply involve making the "least of these" angry (and marginalizing the greedy from the world), others, like the first one I'm about to go over, are capable of literally ushering in an end to the world in ways that the nuclear alarmists of the 1960's never saw coming.

Climate Change


It's definitely human nature for some Christians to bring climate change down to the level of evolution or claim that they're studying it because they don't have anything else to study in an attempt to demonize the atheistic science community... but in all actuality, the amount of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere has increased to a 20-million-year high as a result of human activity. Which, of course, begs the question: What human activity? The fossil fuel industry is definitely one where greed is rampant and widespread, to say the least. By collaborating with the auto and power-generation industries to create dependence on itself, the oil industry is easily one of the wealthiest ― and greediest ― industries in the world, and up until very recently Exxon was #1 in the world in terms of market cap. Until, of course, Apple and Google managed to reach the top... but still, oil greed ― and oil dependence ― continues to persist. What do those oil companies use that vaguely robber-baron-like fortune to do? More often than not, it's to pay politicians to deny climate change, which is to say "I'm going to bribe someone in science/academia to deny the consequences of my sin so I can keep on sinning," and also to send politicians into office that give them tax breaks while going to great lengths to squash competition. Thanks to the fact that CO2 emissions have also gone on to trigger methane release, well, it may already be too late to avoid this particular consequence of greed, but if not, then it's time to let the world know that it's our own sin that's responsible. As for competition-squashing, well, that brings us to our next point.

The "least of these" wanting to rebel


While, I admit, envy is just as much of a sin as greed (will definitely be going over it at a later time), greed in one group of people often triggers envy in another. Remember what the initial cause of the American Revolution was? "Taxation without representation?" Yup, it's the British king's own greed that pissed us off. Think that's always good? Not so fast: The same thing happened in Russia. Tsar Nicholas was notorious for his endless pursuit of material possessions. So too were nearly all the tsars prior to him. The US and Russia were the last two countries in the world to end slavery. In the case of the US, it was the African-Americans who were the slaves. In the case of Russia, it was the common Russians who were the serfs — or, in other words, slaves ― for nearly three centuries. The common people suffered, while the tsars lived in outright luxury... until, of course, the Bolsheviks came along. Little did they realize, communism would be just as bad as tsardom/serfdom... and thanks to the rise of dictator after dictator after dictator that came with the communist regime, it wasn't until the 1990's that Russians began to enjoy the freedoms that us Americans have been enjoying since the 1700's. Think that can't happen in a democracy? Think again. When China's Qing emperors were ousted around the turn of the 20th century, a 50-year democracy ensued. At that time, those who ran for office began to, during the Roaring 20's and what not, amass huge amounts of wealth. The result was something not too dissimilar to the situation we Americans had during the 19th century: a situation where a select few held a large swath of China's wealth. People like Mao Zedong and the gang were obviously fed up with this, and revolted. The democracy was then banished to Taiwan, and now Taiwan is democratic while mainland China is just as communist and freedom-lacking as ever. Speaking of the massive economic inequality gap, that brings us to our third and last point.

Isolation


Let's be honest: Would you rather hang out with only 1% of the population or with 99% of it? Hmmm? I don't know about you, but I'd definitely choose my time with other people ― and with fellow Christians ― over my time with material possessions hands-down. Unfortunately, greed is a sin that tends to cut off its victims from the rest of the world. Unless the greedy start using some of that money to help their friends and family out, they're going to find themselves in a pickle. That is, a pickle where everyone they used to love suddenly hates them for enjoying all the wealth in the world while letting their own friends and family suffer. Thankfully, most of us who aren't compulsive hoarders (or disposophobes) aren't that dumb... but for those who are, this consequence is clearly one that's bound to affect them.

Then again, as early Christian monk Evagrius Ponticus has clearly stated, it's disposophobia that often results in greed. Greed is a sin of fear. It's a sin that's born out of uncertainty, of not knowing what the future holds. Because the greedy are often disposophobic (or, technically, phtocheiophobic ― irrationally fearful of poverty) when it comes to the future, their response is to want all the money and possessions in the world. Little do they realize, when it comes to only wanting more and more, the risks clearly outweigh the benefits.