Integrity Matters
January 7, 2004

When it comes right down to it, it's greed

Question: (E-078)

Dear Jim:

The stories about very rich people pushing for still more wealth, in questionable ways like defrauding even small investors, upset me. What happens to integrity and honesty when money comes into the picture?


For some, wealth and recognition seem to blind their social sensitivity. Simple, hard-working, single-minded individuals, who've been helped along the way to incredible success, sometimes turn a deaf ear to those they once called friends and colleagues. Either they never learned to appreciate their success and stop clawing their way to the top, or they have failed to recognize how inappropriate it is for them to continue in their self-serving ways once they've really made it. What we do understand is that this type of behavior is destructive.

Once upon a time, when citizens were not quite so surrounded by conveniences and less able to push buttons that "do the work," more energy may have been focused on social interactions. Perhaps when a trip of 100 miles required a week of travel, folks had more time to appreciate their world and the people in it. Now, we are able to fly around the earth in less than a week, and still we seem to have less time to reflect and relate.

Although we will not change some of the dirty rotten scoundrels who will forever take advantage of others, there is a chance that some who might be at risk of false pride, hubris, and ruthless insensitivity will take heed of another of the lessons taught by Mahatma Ghandi. It was Ghandi, the "great soul," who led the drive for Indian independence and was assassinated in 1948. He gave up his family legacy of a life of guaranteed luxury, including the best that education could offer, to provide guidance for his own people and his nation's freedom. From Ghandi's experiences, we can learn this:

There are seven aspects of living that must be avoided. By choosing more constructive priorities and behaviors, each individual can avoid what Ghandi referred to as the seven deadly social sins:

  1. Wealth without work.
  2. Pleasure without conscience.
  3. Knowledge without character.
  4. Commerce without morality.
  5. Science without humanity.
  6. Worship without sacrifice.
  7. Politics without principle.

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