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Friday, January 17, 2014

The Addiction Industry and Greed

I'm really grateful for the comments on the previous post, because that story was disgusting.  To see how the gambling magnates and their chums in politics have teemed up should trouble all of us.

Politicians have always been a troubled lot.  Power and money attract 'flies.'  In the case of the US, our system has gradually put more and more people under the power of fewer and fewer leaders.

This concentrates money and power, and so creates an environment where men with money can have an easier time accessing the power they need to make more money.  This happens under 'Capitalism' just as Party leaders did the same thing under Communism.

It is not the direct result of a political system, because all political systems run on people.  Corrupt people go in, corruption comes out.  Greed is one of the biggest forms of corruption around, and it has been with us from the beginning of man's fall.

The gambling industry runs on greed, and so greedy people thrive in it, and the byproduct is, well, greed.  Of course, greed is also part of the temptation that leads to gambling addiction.  We all want to be 'big winners' with little effort, and gambling draws our attention because it seems to offer this.

Now, read this:

If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.  But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed. (1 Ti 6:3-19)

We can see the greed of both the gambling industry members as well as the gamblers, and how their mutual love of money brings them to ruin.  There is nothing wrong with being rich, but there are wrong ways of doing it, and greed is, above all, a destructive force.

This 'love of money' is ϕιλαργυρία, the 'love of silver.'  The Scriptures more frequently use πλεονεξία or 'covetousness/greed.'  Notice how this greed love of money leads to apostasy.  It all comes from a lack of contentment.  Sound familiar?

Yes, this lack of contentment is what drives us to sin and addiction.  Our inability to be grateful and to offer thanks to God for what He has given us becomes hunger that sends us into dark places, where we end up destroying ourselves while we destroy others.

Although Steve Wynne and the other gambling industrialists look down on gamblers and abstain from gambling themselves, what makes them different from the dope dealer who says, "Sorry, I don't smoke"?  To be honest, nothing really.  I can understand why people are outraged that the guy on the street corner selling baggies of highly-cut narcotics goes to jail while Steve Wynne gets a police escort.  It is one of those things that we have to leave to Divine Justice I suppose.

Unless we wake up and decide to change.  We must renounce our own greed and, I think more appropriately, our own envy of those who are greedy and successful at it.  Yes, those who often scream the loudest are ignored because most people sense when our outrage is secretly driven by our own deep desires to be rich and powerful, and we are acting out of resentment that someone else got that and not us.

Society will not change unless we change first.  We must first purge ourselves of envy and malice, through the healing of gratitude to God.  Then, we can stop feeding this beast of Greed which has its tentacles everywhere these days.

1 comment:

  1. @: "We must renounce our own greed and, I think more appropriately, our own envy of those who are greedy and successful at it. .... We must first purge ourselves of envy and malice, through the healing of gratitude to God. "

    In that regard, I have a recommendation for all recovering addicts. It is the book "Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives" by Elder Thaddeus Štrbulović (St. Herman's Press).

    Elder Thaddeus concentrates on resentment ("fighting others in our thoughts") throughout most of this book. He corroborates what you said a few posts ago that "All of us need to get down off the foolish pedestal of 'private sin' and understand that who we are naturally effects all those around us."

    One of the most important points Elder Thaddeus makes in his book, is that, even though only that saints can actually read our thoughts, everyone else can sense them. Thus, there is really no such thing as "private" sin, "private" thoughts or "private" resentments. They always bleed through, either in our actions, or just simply in our "presence" and "being." Even if we sit there like a stone, and say and do nothing at all, these "private" resentments still affect everyone around us.

    This teaching has been deeply challenging to me. I have always considered myself to be a "private" person, and here comes Elder Thaddeus, ripping that mask right off. It is enough to make one feel quite "naked in the public square."