At the Boston Regional Workshop in December, 1994, Harvey Jackins highlighted and demonstrated the universal pattern of greed. Greed affects all humanity but in particular has been manipulated to motivate all the patterned activities of the owning class.

Harvey taught that greed is the fundamental underpinning of the oppressive society. Long ago, in the slave societies, it became “sanctified” and rigidified. It was carried over into feudalism after the collapse of slave societies. When feudalism in its turn was challenged, greed was not, and now within capitalist societies it is sanctified as never before. No matter what the human achievement, from the exploration of space to public health, the accumulation of wealth is its primary motive.

Every human being has acquired this pattern. It is hermetically sealed upon us very early on. None of us escaped it because it is rooted in all the insecurities that developed with our earliest hurts. In England we have recently launched a national lottery accompanied by what can only be described as hysteria. I flew home to the frenzy of Christmas and then the January sales and watched the “need” to have something bigger, brighter, better, or simply more being manipulated. People of every class are driven to buy and acquire things far beyond what they need in order for business profits to soar.

If greed is taking more than one needs and being indifferent to the needs of others (taking for oneself what might be necessary for another) that would, in a nutshell, appear to be the purpose of each and every pattern developed by the owning class. These patterns impel the owning-class person to own and control more wealth and world resources than everyone else. The examples showing how there is no limit to greed are legion.

There was a good demonstration showing how to work on this. The client expressed shame, embarassment, and reluctance to begin. The first contradiction seemed to be to acknowledge lightly and without guilt that the pattern exists.

“I only want enough” was accompanied by laughter; “I have just a little owning-class greed” (said very lightly) tipped the discharge from laughter into tears and heavy grief. Harvey was very clear that guilt is not deserved or appropriate—that we have never had a chance to function outside of this distress. He described envy as the other end of the pattern. This was helpful. It made it easier to see how universal the pattern is. Greed is present in all classes, not just among the owning class.

“I’m greedy,” said in the same cheerful tone as one might say, “I’m terrified,” works well too.

I think it is going to be helpful for us to have this pattern out in the open—yet another way to eliminate denial and pretense. My expectation is that working on greed without shame is going to lead to discharging the fear that we know underpins all of our patterns. As ever, if we remember our goodness and innocence, we can work on the stickiest stuff—let’s go to it!

Jo Saunders
February, 1995 


Last modified: 2014-10-06 18:12:08+00