A couple of weeks ago I told Tywana that I have so many shorts in my closet that I cannot get through wearing them all in a season. Yet, I buy more. This summer I’ve acquired another pair, free in exchange for a review, and I bought a pair at Costco just because of the price. I didn’t really need them. I bought them probably a month ago. I haven’t worn them yet. They sit, with the tags still attached atop the pile on the shelf in my closet. So, when I was surfing Facebook and saw a Groupon for more shorts, I scrolled right by. Except, I didn’t.
They were $12.99. $12.99 for “designer” cargo shorts. That’s too cheap to pass by. I clicked on the ad. They had white, black, khaki, green, and red. I have more than enough black shorts, I thought. Don’t need khaki. Don’t need green. Don’t want white. By now I should have stopped looking, but I didn’t. Red. I don’t have much red. Do I have any red shorts? Yes, but just one pair. These are different. I could justify buying these. I put them in my shopping cart and started the checkout process. With taxes and shipping, they’ll still be less than $19. I can’t pass this deal up. I need a second pair of red shorts. Wait! Stop! What am I doing? All the time I’m harping on Tywana about “saving money” by buying something we don’t need. In a moment of clarity, I come out of the retail therapy induced coma and into full consciousness and I close down the browser. I have truly saved money now because I didn’t buy the shorts I absolutely do not need.
The next day, my friend Annie tags me on this video. “Greed: The Fatal Desire“. The title has a double meaning. The film ties the need we have for more and more stuff together with our denial of the fact we are mortal. By acquiring stuff, we are assuming we’ll be around to use it. In a perverse way, we think the more stuff we have the longer we’ll extend our lives. Greed is a way we have of coping with our mortality. The other side of greed is we are greedy to the point where we are destroying the very planet we need to live on. Greed is a natural result of living in a world of limited resources. Evolution has built into us the desire to acquire enough to survive. Ironically, a skill that allows us to survive in one environment can become fatal if not curbed when the environment changes. The fight or flight response that keeps us safe from lions and tigers and bears can kill us if it’s on 24/7 in our suburban existence, stressed about paying bills. The greed that drives us to acquire enough resources to live is killing us as we have turned it into a consumeristic society destroying the planet to produce and consume crap that nobody needs.
Of course, we know on one level that the acquisition of stuff can’t extend our lives. However, this is the way we act. I’ve often wondered about people who acquire billions of dollars and continue to amass more. Why do they do this? What is wrong with them? If you have a billion dollars and you spend $10,000 a day, how long would it take for you to run out of money? I’ll tell you. It would take 273 years. None of us lives that long. Let’s assume you live 90 years, after you’ve become a billionaire. You could spend $30,000 a day. So, why do people who have billions of dollars continue to amass more? Fools, I always say. Then, I think about myself. I don’t know how many shorts I even have. I know I have more than enough to last for however long I’m going to be around. Yet, here I was about to buy more? Am I really so different from these people I criticize?
The film makes a lot of great points, some I have thought about before. Tying greed to the desire to be immortal is new to me. The fact that my greed is a big cause of my stress is brought into stark clarify. I’ve got to get a handle on it to learn to be satisfied with enough. I’m very glad I decided not to buy those shorts, even before I saw the film. A rare woke moment.