Wednesday, June 29, 2005

6 Out of 7

The quote from this article (which I first heard on the radio driving home yesterday) really set my teeth on edge:

After the verdict, Scrushy delivered a public statement, sounding alternately like a preacher and an Oscar winner. He thanked the jury, God, his family, and a bevy of bishops and pastors.

"I don't understand why people are so critical. What's wrong? What happened to the compassion in this world?" Scrushy asked. "You've got to have compassion in this world, folks, because you don't know who's next, who's going to be attacked next."

To quote one of my favorite movie lines (from John Carpenter's "The Thing"): "You gotta be fucking kidding."

Okay, full disclosure time: I pronounce myself guilty of six out of the seven deadly sins. If you want a list of particulars, I can provide multiple pages for each sin. But one of them, Greed, has always eluded me. Now and then I wish I could hit the weekly PowerBall jackpot, but I don't desire excessive "material wealth or gain". Maybe it's because I have no realistic hope of earning more than high five figures per year. Maybe it's because I came of age during the 1980s, surrounded by the worst examples of wanton avarice in my own public high school. Or maybe greed never took hold in my genetic code. Whatever the reason, I don't understand the sin of greed. I have no touchstone for it, unlike, say, anger or lust. I have experienced those sins in full flower, so I understand why people can be carried away on their currents to drown. Not so with greed.

Now, back to Scrushy1 and his ilk. I only have one question for them all: How much is enough? I mean, seriously. How much is fucking enough? Do you, who surround yourself with luxuries and trappings that most of us will never know in a thousand lifetimes, really have the gall to turn to us and ask "What happened to the compassion in this world?" You want to know what happened to it? YOU BOUGHT IT YEARS AGO AND SOCKED IT AWAY IN SOME TAX SHELTER.

Am I angry? Hell yeah, I'm angry. I'm angry at these bozos who preach the "rising tide lifts all boats" line, while knowing full well that folks occupying the bottom tax bracket haven't a prayer of buying a house in their gated communities. The notion of an "ownership society" pisses me off. Maybe I'm just commie-pinko-liberal trash, but I think that the least a state can do is make sure that its citizens are fed, clothed, housed, and healthy. I do believe that we can eradicate poverty in our lifetime with a slight diversion of our GDP.

If Scrushy really wants to earn my compassion, then he should do something to really help people. And encourage all his rich friends to do the same. I mean, really, how much is enough?

1I know that Scrushy has done much good in Alabama. That still doesn't excuse his arrogance, IMHO.


lemming said...

As it says in the Gospels, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

Belief that you are righteous does not mean that you are.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Have you ever coveted a cool toy?

tommyspoon said...

Not really, TRP. Maybe I did when I was a little kid (I really wanted a G.I. Joe with the Kung-fu grip -- and I got one for my 5th birthday), but I don't consider that greed. I always tried to save my pennies for things that I wanted, and I stopped wanting them if I couldn't afford them. Seriously, it's that simple with me.

I knew a kid in my h.s. who, after rolling his 1967 Corvette on I-66 in a drunken accident, demanded AN0THER one from his folks. He got it. Now that's greed.

TeacherRefPoet said...

I like things. I want a 64-inch plasma-screen TV even though I don't need it. I want to go to Japan to watch baseball games even though I don't need to. Don't you have even one similar guilty desire? One item in your house that you don't need...or that you don't need to be that nice?

lemming said...

TRP - I think there's a difference between covet and want. To covet means that you want something so badly that the desire conpletely takes over your being. You think about that something (be it an item or an event) so much that you think about it several times a day, and turn great efforts to getting it, whatever their morality.

I'd argue that you "like things" is closer to lust than covet. I would very much like all sorts of neat gadgets, but not to the extent that the desire consumes much of my thought process.

TeacherRefPoet said...

My argument is a little bit separate from that. It's this: as I see it all have to possess some temptations towards at least a version of all of the sins, or we wouldn't be human.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Dude. I posted here at 7:16 PM two days in a row. Time to buy a pick-three lottery ticket.

Drewster said...

I think there is a difference between wanting something and greed.

I may want that TV TRP mentions, but do I do anything untoward to attain it? It seems that would be greed. Wanting something and then, say, knocking the 80 year old woman with a walker over in order to get it.

Wanting alone I don't think would quite make a sin. But what do I know, I'm Episcopalian!

John B. said...


I think that there is a definite difference between want and covet.

You can want something but it doesn't become your singular source of pleasure or desire in life. I want a 64" plasma TV too (although I will never see one, wife and money withstanding), but the TV is not the singular pursuit or desire in my life.

Coveting something is when it gets in the way of your relationship with God or others, at that point I think, at least in my estimation, this is when greed enters the picture.

And heck, similar to drewster, I am Catholic, we are all mixed up anyhow.