The Greed Quotient!

The instinct of greed is perhaps as ancient as the Homo sapiens. In fact, greed characterizes this species exclusively in terms of recognizing it as it is, because the animals act or react instinctively to hunger or lust or anything without having the power to decipher this as ‘greed’, and if it were possible we’d have seen numerous rivalries, bursts of envy, uprisings and power struggles in the animal world too. Greed is a simple five-letter word, even shorter in some regional languages; but it encompasses countless fields of activity, not just limited to the food varieties and culinary delights. Greed for money has been historically significant, demonstrated in all ages down to specifically the modern civilization.


It influences human beings in their relationships both in families and workplaces leading to a sense of competitiveness and envy; it influences human being in the basic man-woman relationships leading to subtle or obtuse expressions of lust which actually emanates from the greed for carnal pleasures; it influences human beings in their marital relationships in a vicious circle of mutual-greed concerning positions, incomes, costumes and so on; it creates virtual earthquakes in workplaces where colleagues and bosses act or react in unprecedented ways driven, obviously, by the greed for promotions or for absolute control or for credit-grabbing-stealing; the uncontrollable greed for alcoholic liquor that often results in skirmishes both at homes with members of the families and on the streets with friends or even strangers; and of course, the eternal greed for eating—at homes or at the ever-luring outside joints/restaurants/bars. Of course, we must distinguish between the urges of ‘eat to live’ and ‘live to eat’ to avoid harmful generalizations.


The above examples have to be considered as extremely limited in view of the unimaginably expansive networks that greed can create and evolve. It can act both at the micro and macro levels, from the nuclear families to international politics—of strategies and wars. The basic instincts in the operations of the hard-core criminals and the terrorists also emanate from greed; however, we’ll exclude this class from our treatment due to the rather ‘light’ nature of this piece. The importance of the ‘greed quotient’ is crucial as far as the consequences are concerned. As we already indicated, if the quotient is insignificantly minimal then greed operates at a subtle level without any visible adverse impact; and when the quotient is almost hundred percent then greed operates at the obtuse level leading to family or social or even international unrest.


Again, in view of the ‘light’ nature of this piece we’ll restrict ourselves to greed-expressions or acts in relation to only the food sector. Considering the extent of civilization of the humankind greed should exist only for the cooked or ready-to-eat food items thus excluding the raw varieties barring some of the vegetables and of course the fruits. However, this cannot be viewed as a conclusive statement. When we go to the fish or the meat markets we cannot help but touch and press the raw pieces to test the ‘quality’, basically for mental solace; but there are others whose greed quotient must on the higher side, put their fingers on the raw fish or meat, press it and then lick their fingers, perhaps to taste its potential delights.


In the fields of garments, cosmetics, fashion and consumer durables it is extremely difficult to separate the greed quotient from other factors like necessity, glamour, consumerism and choices. But of course we can rely on this indicator: the more the number of unnecessary purchases, mostly of luxuries and expensive items, the more is the value of the greed quotient. Therefore, it is not at all surprising to come across caricatures of human beings in terms of garments or cosmetics or the lack of it everywhere, the foundation of which is soundly rooted at the greed factor.


Going out for lunches or dinners at the coveted restaurants—starting from the one to the five-six star varieties—is not always based on greed. Sometimes it is a matter of weekender or holiday habits, sometimes it is to be free from the constant kitchen engagement and at other times it is just for pleasure where greed can come into some play. When we find huge crowds waiting for hours before restaurants known for their gourmet delicacies at the dead of the night it is clearly a case of a higher or very high values of the greed quotient.


A fierce sense of competitiveness with neighbors, colleagues and relatives makes unfortunate changes in the values of the greed quotient. The once-upon-a-time celebrated advertising slogan ‘neighbors’ envy, owners’ pride’ was perhaps a direct abetment to causing unfavorable values in the greed quotient. If a neighbor buys an expensive luxury item or a car you feel compelled to do the same, even risking a financial crisis. The same applies to expensive fashion costumes and a variety of other consumer durables, and also to pleasure trips that could otherwise have been avoided.


During unusual times like war or a pandemic that continues for a long time there emerges the syndrome of the ‘suppressed greed quotient’, and when things seem to be coming back to normal there is an upward explosion in the values, leading to abnormal behavior patterns and violations of rules and regulations. The governments concerned react in ways based on their values, indeed. More positively speaking, this ‘suppressed greed’ or even the normal greed does not affect the poor and the lower-middle classes as much to an extent as the affluent classes, and this is a blessing for the deprived, saving them from further sufferings.


Let us conclude this piece with a nice story of a shy and introvert young man who happened to have his supper at his uncle’s place one night. There was a delicious egg curry prepared by his aunt. The young man was relishing his food, eating the rice soaked with the curry licking his fingers, smacking his lips till only the full egg remained in his plate. His uncle was noticing the proceedings of the young man’s eating pattern. Suddenly the uncle exclaimed, “Oh dear! You have not eaten the egg! Don’t you like it?” and before the poor guy could reply the uncle picked up the egg and put it into his mouth in one motion, both of his cheeks bulging out in a pure relish of munching. The young man looked stunned, aghast and utterly grief-stricken. He had preserved the full egg dexterously, resisting the urge of having it straightway in full or in parts, for a delightful ending.


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