Thoughts on Greed from Ancient History to Contemporary China

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The Chinese character for greed consists of two parts: one means “now” and the other is “treasure.” This denotes the deep meaning of this character, that is, by collecting excessive fortune now, a person will pay the price at a later time.

Lessons Learned from History
Countless examples support this idea throughout Chinese history. Zhou, the last king of the Shang Dynasty, spent outrageous amounts of money building luxurious mansions, seeking pleasure, and satisfying his lust. These deeds not only brought the dynasty to an end, but also forced him to commit suicide.

Another example is Li Si, prime minister during the Qin Dynasty. Out of self-interest, he murdered Han Fei, a highly talented intellectual, as well as Fu Su, the rightful king's heir. While Li's bad deeds caused catastrophic consequences for the country, they did not earn favorable rewards for himself either. He was framed and executed and his family was killed as well.

Greed makes one selfish and, when it continues, drives people to lose their conscience and commit wrongdoings. This is exactly the case in contemporary China, where the communist regime combines totalitarianism with corruption.

Materialism Undermines Society
Bribery is so common in China now that government officials could hardly survive without giving or accepting bribes. Through exploitation and further bribery, they consistently work on seeking more personal gains. Unfortunately this has also spread to other levels of society, from the police, to city management, to healthcare and to education.

As pubic employees, police officers and city management staff are supposed to serve the people. But when the focus of these agencies changed to gaining profit, it led to many unfavorable incidents and sometimes disastrous consequences. For example, it was reported that after a city management staff member beat a street vendor, the vendor took revenge and killed staff members.

Although heart bypass surgery is meant to save lives, doctors can also make ample profit due to its high cost. Many doctors thus carry out many unnecessary operations to make money. But the doctors' unethical behavior could also trigger revenge and other social problems. In fact, several tragedies have been reported in which patients killed doctors after medical problems remained unsolved.

Top Officials Amass Large Fortunes
While many ordinary citizens are struggling to survive, high officials have been accumulating fortunes through various channels. The depreciation of RMB is one example. Although the average family income in China is less than one-tenth of that in developed nations, home prices are comparable. Thus the majority of wealth and profit goes to those who can manipulate the system.

This rapid accumulation of wealth in China is often accompanied by spending large sums on luxuries and moral degeneration. China has become one of the world's major markets for luxury merchandise. Officials have also been reported to have affairs with several, sometimes over 100 women.

Taking the Consequences
In addition to social problems, solely pursuing money also has negatively impacted the food industry and environment. Not only are low-quality and fake products spreading widely for profit, poisonous ingredients are also jeopardizing people’s health. For example, oil waste from drains is reused in food preparation; toxic materials are added to rice, eggs, sausages and so on for better colour and prolonged shelf life. The damage to the environment is even more shocking, with lack of clean water and poor air quality.

According to traditional Chinese culture, one has to value virtue in order to deserve material gains. Therefore, solely pursuing fortune will not lead to sustained wealth. Doing so at the price of taking from others is even worse as it will cause numerous consequences that one will have to pay for in the end.

It is the communist regime that, through attacking and damaging traditional values, has transformed people’s ideology and caused society as a whole to slide towards catastrophe, both materially and morally. By recognizing the regime's harmful effects and renouncing any connection with the Party, people will improve their moral standards and see hope for the future.

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