Greed fed the housing bubble that burst a few years ago.
Greed is at the core of most corporate corruption and street-level muggings.
The American Civil War was fought over the greed of Southern states bent on maintaining slavery as a key element of their business plans.
Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait, which led to U.S. involvement in the first Gulf War 20 years ago, was sparked by greed.
The Gordon Gekko character from the movie “Wall Street” said, “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”
I don’t fundamentally disagree with Gekko. But unbridled greed — that which lacks any moral compass, that tramples on the dignity and lives of others — is neither healthy nor helpful in a civil society.
One of the great challenges facing children born into generations of poverty is the invisible chain that prevents achievement and self-determination. The lack of positive and successful role models is a significant deterrent to building dreams in children hungry for status and financial success.
So what’s the solution?
Clearly, blacks have fared well in many sports and entertainment fields, but not all equally. Blacks dominate basketball, do extremely well in football and rap music and are well represented in baseball. Hockey, motorsports, golf, gymnastics and tennis mostly are void of blacks.
Groups dominate in fields where children devote their time and energy, partially because they have access and role models.
To start a pick-up game of basketball, all you need is a hoop and one person with a basketball. If you can’t afford a tennis racket or baseball glove, you’re going to have a difficult time lobbing the ball back to an opponent or fielding a hot grounder.
Black children, like white children, want a better life. Is it greed? Perhaps, but no more than anyone wearing a watch worth more than a $17 Timex or making calls on an iPhone instead of using the many cheaper options.
Our challenge is not motivating children to want more out of life. Our challenge is to show them examples of successful people, teach them the value of an education and help them understand the concept of risk versus reward.
These examples must come from people who look like them, who come from similar backgrounds, who are living some semblance of the American dream. These are people who are not just eking out an existence, but living above the water line and who just might make enough money or have enough time left at the end of the day to give back to help those less fortunate.
We must create jobs and develop entrepreneurship in our needy communities to help our children develop a vision for their lives.
Clearly, it’s not just about greed, but you do with what you have.