Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Greed is Hidden Inside All of Us

In one of the most exposing and devastating paragraphs I have ever read, Tim Keller comments on greed and how it "hides itself from the victim." In Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters, p. 52-3:
Why can't anyone in the grip of greed see it? The counterfeit god of of money uses powerful sociological and psychological dynamics. Everyone tends to live in a particular socioeconomic bracket. Once you are able to live in a particular neighborhood, send your children to its schools, and participate in its social life, you will find yourself surrounded by quite a number of people who have more money than you. You don't compare yourself to the rest of the world, you compare yourself to those in your bracket. The human heart always wants to justify itself and this is one of the easiest ways. You say, "I don't live as well as him or her or them. My means are modest compared to theirs." You can reason and think like that no matter how lavish you are living. As a result, Americans think of themselves as middle class, and only 2 percent call themselves "upper class." But the rest of the world is not fooled. When people visit here from other parts of the globe, they are staggered to see the level of materialistic comfort that the majority of Americans have come to view as necessity.