Is Need to Greed a Myth or a Cycle of Life!!

The debate over whether humans are naturally inclined towards greed and accumulation or if this is socially constructed is a deep one, going back centuries. In today’s hyper-consumerist society, this debate has only become more relevant. Let us take a look at some recent research and data to explore the perspectives of both sides:

Firstly, those who argue that greed is a fundamental part of human biology often point to the evolutionary history of humans. Our prehistoric ancestors were, by necessity, focused primarily on securing shelter and sustenance, so it stands to reason that modern humans would share this impulse. In this context, the need to acquire more resources would be a natural outgrowth of our survival instincts. However, studies have shown that accumulation varies from culture to culture. 

In 2014, Columbia University published the results of a study of ancient societies, concluding that early forms of cooperation, altruism, and reciprocal exchange were intertwined with humans’ larger social and ecological systems.

On the other hand, many scientists and scholars argue that greed and accumulation are largely a product of our cultural and economic systems. According to a report by Oxfam International, the gap between the world’s richest and poorest people has been steadily increasing since the 1980s, with the wealthiest 1% now owning more than the rest of the world’s population combined. This suggests that modern society is structured in such a way that accumulation and the pursuit of more, is incentivized to serve the needs of the wealthiest.

Another recent study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that people who lived in countries with a high level of economic inequality tend to have a stronger desire for material possessions than those who live in more egalitarian societies. It shows that society is having a growing impact on accumulation behaviors.

Therefore, both perspectives can inform our discussion. Are humans inherently greedy by nature? Yes, to an extent. Is the accumulation of wealth and tools used to climb the societal ranks massively influenced? Also, yes.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual and society to decide what our values are going to be, and how we choose to prioritize them in our daily lives and economy. The ongoing debate about need to greed is one that will continue to shape how we relate to each other and the natural world around us.

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