‘We evolved to husband resources, Mr Bashful. It conferred upon us a distinct survival advantage in times of famine. Greed is part of our makeup. By accumulating money and items we are simply fulfilling an innate need, Mr B!’
We also evolved a need to eat fat and sugar, because those foods gave us energy to hunt and helped us through the hard times. However, because we in the Western world live in times of plenty, that innate need to eat sugar and fat has become a problem. We can’t switch it off. Furthermore, the more we eat, the more we want. In the same way, in our consumeristic times of abundance, our greed cannot be sated. The more we have, the more we want. The trouble is, greed will gnaw at us no matter how hard we aim for satisfaction.
In short, the fact that we have innate needs to eat fat and sugar, and innate needs to accumulate wealth and goods, means we need to curb our inclinations, not indulge in them.
By the way, the premise is questionable. We didn’t necessarily evolve a need to accumulate, because for much of our evolution we have been a nomadic species. Nomads didn’t need to accumulate – they could only carry the basics.
Q. ‘What about the nesting thing? Like most animals we’re compelled to create a home, which means that having mansions and boats and stuff is natural. Bower birds strive to make their homes the best possible. Why can’t we be the same?’
Again, in these times of plenty it’s an innate need gone berserk.
‘I bet if a Bower bird could buy heaps more pegs to display in its bower it probably would.’
Er . . .yes.
‘And maybe it’s the pyramid thing.’
‘When the pharaohs died they had their slaves and animals killed and shoved into the pyramid with them. Along with food and stuff. For the afterlife.’
‘We want immortality. If we can build an edifice big enough, an empire big enough, a reputation big enough, a family big enough . . . if we can make a big impact in some way so that our influence is there long after we’re dead, we can feel better about dying. It’s like we’re not really dead.’
Yes, another innate need gone berserk.
‘I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.’
Q. ‘But Mr B, people respect the wealthy.’
Really? Think again.