The Master said, “The gentleman understands what is right, whereas the petty man understands profit.”
Confucius (Analects 4.16)
In one of the most famous film monologues of the modern era, fictional corporate raider Gordon Gekko pronounced, “Greed, for a lack of a better word, is good.”
The Gekko character was in fact a heinous villain, a person living in unbridled excess, lacking any respect for human dignity, the merits of hard work, or the livelihood of others. Scoffing at such an imaginary man would be a natural reaction; however, undoubtedly, some of the young professionals walking out of movie theaters shaking their heads in 1987 are now left with the remnants of their own Gekko-like demise, complete with orange jumpsuits and silver handcuffs.
Although popular culture is aware of its deadly consequences, greed remains everywhere and the vice is still hopelessly embedded as a bed rock in our global society.
In fact, Kevin Rudd, prime minister of Australia, in reaction to the spiraling events of the most recent worldwide recession, stated, “Beneath the financial jargon and dramatic stock market events, the sub-prime crisis has also reflected a fundamental failure of values. We’ve seen the triumph of greed over integrity; the triumph of speculation over value creation; the triumph of the short-term over long-term, sustainable growth.”1 Notably, Rudd called his speech “The Children of Gordon Gekko.” ...