239. The Competing Engines of Action: Greed and Benevolence

The sales­man and the teacher share much in method and imme­di­ate pur­pose. Both wish to move other human beings to deci­sive action, and in that quest they engage the target’s moti­va­tion. Each how­ever is dri­ven by a dif­fer­ent per­sonal need, and trans­mits quite dif­fer­ent out­comes. The sales­man is (at bot­tom) dri­ven by greed, and seeks to exploit weak­ness. To achieve suc­cess, he encour­ages desire, or even lust in the buyer. The long term out­come of the result­ing “con­sumer cul­ture” – a cul­ti­vated cul­ture of greed, desire and quick grat­i­fi­ca­tion – is a wide­spread feel­ing of empti­ness and dis­con­tent. Lust is never sat­is­fied. The teacher (that is a teacher by nature rather than mere title) is dri­ven by benev­o­lence, and seeks to opti­mise the poten­tials of his stu­dents. To achieve suc­cess, he cul­ti­vates curi­ousity, inquiry and dili­gence in the learner. The long term out­come of the result­ing cul­ture of learn­ing is life­long per­sonal growth, a plea­sure in shar­ing and help­ing, and a strong value in doing things well. Benev­o­lence often, per­haps usu­ally, loses to greed. Why? Greed is urgent, the grat­i­fi­ca­tion of hot desire is a quick burn, and never mind the quick burnout to fol­low. Benif­i­cence is merely warm and endur­ing.

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