Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins Part I: Charity vs. Greed
According to cognitive psychologist George Miller´s theory from 1956, most adults have a short-term memory capacity of five to nine items, which makes number 7 magic (plus or minus two). Perhaps this is also one of the reasons for the classical seven virtues and seven deadly sins? People, on the average, have such a restricted short term memory that virtues and sins are easily mixed up? The truth must be much more complicated than this. I doubt that any human being is capable of explaining the complexity behind humanity in one simple sentence.
What are the seven virtues and the seven deadly sins? I wanted to discuss these in depth since the establishment of my leadership blog. It´s not that I would exactly be reinventing the wheel, since these were identified and discussed already by the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato. Some things remain shooting stars, while others are always actual and important.
With Christmas approaching, charity and greed are probably the most relevant two to be discussed. We have yet another greedy (?) year almost behind us, whereby firms are soon about to close their books and in January, about to announce their fourth quarter results to shareholders and stakeholders. On the other hand, numerous organizations and NGO´s worldwide take action in order to collect money for various groups with one thing in common: the need of support and financial aid.
But what is greed exactly? Greed is a desire to possess, materialism of abstract value with a selfish intention, on a high level beyond the dictates of basic human needs such as shelter and food. It can also be interpreted as to having a high desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power. Wikipedia´s explanation includes the fact that greed is “an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs”. Could it be explained more simply?
The negative aspect of greed is to deprive others of potential means, perhaps including basic survival and comfort or future opportunities accordingly.
Charity, on the other hand, is giving alms, benevolence or generosity, being human and helping others without expecting anything in return. It is foremost helping those in need, but also helping and giving people around you (anyone), without expecting anything in return.
Unfortunately, the world is not equal, in many ways. There is nothing wrong with being successful and making money, but greediness is different. Charity is to help others with legally earned money and generated wealth. If, however, wealth has been earned in unethical ways, it is questionable how ethically and morally right it is to help others through illegal earnings.
Luckily, a large part of charity is generated through legal means.