The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Is This Greed?

Kay is running her Seven Deadly Sins festival for the sixth week (one week left).

One of the problems with discussing the Seven Deadly Sins is trying to determine where they begin – that is, when does a healthy sex drive turn into lust? When does to need to relax and not be constantly vigilant become sloth? Where is the line that divides confidence from pride (and really, isn’t the sin hubris, and not pride, anyway)? Where does a desire to acquire goods in order to be relatively comfortable shift into greedily grabbing all that one can?

In the case of greed, it seems that the line is especially subjective and difficult to place. Is it a sign of greed that I tend to store money, saving it for the future, when there are worthy causes to which I can give it now? Certainly, there’s no harm, and a lot of good, in putting money away. However, can I become so fixated on saving money that I fail to do necessary good with it? And is this greed, as the acquisition of money for concern of future need is the motivating factor and not simply financial gain?

I have been struck by this question in the last two days, as I have discovered that, for reasons based on the general oddity of my health insurance policy, I currently owe around $1500 dollars in medical bills. I have the money, and normally would only be slightly annoyed. However, because of a series of events in the last few months, I have had to spend a large amount of money out of my savings account, and it is currently only half of the size that it was on January 1st.

But, of course, this is the entire reason why I have a savings account, so that I can have money ready when the unforeseen occurs, and this money is serving the purpose for which I have saved it. However, I can’t shake the anxiety that I have on paying it out. In other words, the money, though benign in of itself, has gotten a bit of a hold on my psyche, and I can’t stop worrying even though I have nothing to worry about. So, now, is this desire to hold and obtain more money but not spend it even under appropriate circumstances a sign of greed, or simply a sign of me being a worrier?


Raven said...

Well thought out post. The lines really are fuzzy. In your case I don't think this is a sign of greed in any way. More that of a worrier, which is pretty healthy given the fact that your security money has been cut in half quite suddenly at a time when the whole world is buzzing with financial anxiety. Personally, I don't sense even a hint of greed here. I hope you can negotiate with the insurance company so that they do their job better and you get your money back.

Evan Davis said...

I usually draw the greed line when the motivation to get gain moves into the "only to get gain" box. The other line I draw is the justification line: "If it needs justification then it probably isn't justified." I do realize those are vague as well, but they work well for me.