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greed & avarice

generosity & sharing

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Many of you would probably agree that greediness and avarice are often qualities of those who are leading actors in the culture of war.

What is not agreed, however, is whether greed is a cause or rather a result of the culture of war. Trying to answer this question as a professor of psychology, I once gave my students the assignment of going to the library and finding out from the data of anthropology whether fighting over toys is universal in human cultures.

The students came back from their assignment with frustration. They could not answer the question. Instead, after looking thoroughly in the anthropological literature, they found that in most of the non-literate societies of the world that have been studied, children do not possess toys. While they may play with objects, once the play is finished, they leave the objects where they found them.

Toys, like other forms of private property, are a relatively recent invention, and a characteristic of modern cultures. From this, one may conclude that greediness is a result rather than a cause of the modern culture of war. It was probably not a result of the culture of war in prehistory, however, since most non-literate societies have a history of warfare, even though they did not possess private property.

Some people think that greed and avarice have been developed especially by capitalism and would be diminished if we were to develop a socialist economy instead. It is clear, however, that greed was not invented by capitalism, but was well developed by its predecessors including many empires that profited from slavery and colonies gained through wars around the world.

Generosity and sharing, as an alternative to greed and avarice are taught by many cultures, religions and educational initiatives. To what extent do you think this contributes to the development of a culture of peace? And how can it best be taught and integrated with other aspects of a culture of peace?

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game administrator Jun. 10 2008,09:49
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