This conversation is closed.

Avarice is the cancer of the human super-organism

First let me clarify that by human super-organism, I mean villages, towns and cities. I don't mean an abstract global mass of humans.

It's striking to ponder the parallels between cancer and avarice.

Cancer creates tumours through a system of unregulated growth.
Avarice creates societal tumours through the same system.

Tumours grow at the expense of the surrounding healthy cells.
Large economic enterprises grow at the expense of small, healthy, locally constrained economic enterprise.

Cancer spreads around the body via cells that have broken off from the tumour.
Societal cancer spread around the globe through localized branches.

The aim of cancer is solely to grow tumours…the bigger the better, without regard for the health of the organism that it depends on.
The aim of corporations is to grow financial tumours…the bigger the better, without regard for health of the society and environment that they depend on.

From the perspective of a cancer cell situated within a large tumour, his world appears rich with like minded cells.
From the perspective of an executive situated within a large wealthy business, his world appears rich with like minded executives.

There is a rubicon at which the death of an organism by cancer is certain.
There is a rubicon at which the death of a society by avarice is certain.
"amassing the leukocytes of the human super-organism"

  • thumb

    Gail .

    • +1
    Sep 1 2012: I would begin by asking "What is avarice". Yes, I know what avarice means, but what is it's essence? What causes it?

    If you think about it, avarice is a subset of fear. Fear of lack to be more precise. It is the product of a scarcity-based economy (and the global economic model is scarcity-based).

    Fear has very specific degenerative properties in the human brain, and degenerated minds invent degenerative societies. So, it seems to me, the trick is to get rid of the fear.

    As it turns out, there is a scientifically proven way to nearly eliminate fear/anxiety. Meditation, 2ce/day. That simple! Meditation reduces activity in the amygdala part of the brain (fear/anxiety center). Fear & anxiety produce chemicals in the body (as do all emotions). Those fear chemicals restrict access to the frontal cortex (executive, long-term rational decision making process). At the same time, they increase activity in the amygdala that produces short-term irrational decisions)

    Our global culture is a fear-based one. That is the SYMPTOM of the cancer that you see. But it is curable if people are really interested in saving themselves from their own misguided consequences. It doesn't take religion. It doesn't take prayer. It doesn't take hiding from awareness of the problem. It involves nothing more than meditation.

    Fear is a symptom of a missed opportunity to grow (over-simplified). All intense emotions are indicators of mistaken beliefs. When a person takes the time to familiarize self with his/her belief system, and studies to learn which are really true and which only seem true because the emotions have replaced rational thought, then belief systems are dramatically changed, and suffering goes away. Suffering is intense emotional response.

    Our thoughts/words/deeds do in fact create our realities. We can avoid the cancerous death if we become aware of what we are thinking, saying, and doing.
    • Sep 1 2012: Hi TED Lover
      Thanks for your comments
      While I agree that meditation is a positive force, it's also imperative for our mental health that we engage in a constructive and meaningful way with our immediate environment, i.e. the community in which we live.
      By contributing to vibrant healthy communities we grow beyond our selves and feel stronger for it.
      • thumb

        Gail .

        • +1
        Sep 1 2012: Agree wholeheartedly, but research is showing that if communities come together for group meditation, that they can affect meaningful change in the region as well as achieve individual benefit. Studies show that group meditation decreases crime, violence, war, traffic accidents, house fires, and other social problems, while at the same time stimulating community togetherness which is an essential part of our being able to solve our problems.

        It's not a cure-all, but it's significant. If the square root of one percent of an area meditates together, social ills decrease by 16 - 24%. Imagine if groups containing 10% of an area's population were to begin regular meditation sessions.
        • Sep 1 2012: You should promote this video locally on
  • Sep 1 2012: Avarice stems from fear. Let's find the source of fear. Some fears are irrational. Some irrational fears are injected into young children via religious and other forms of brainwashing. When people are old enough to use their rational minds they are already poisoned by their elders and do not rationally understand the true source of their fears and are plagued with them throughout their lives, even though they have no basis in reality in terms of statistical probability of actually occurring.

    The solution to avarice is to stop brainwashing children with the irrational fears of their elders. Elders pretend to pass their fears on to "protect" their children, but they are simply passing on their own crazinesses. Life is good. Let the children know that. People are born to share the joys of life. Let's re-orient humanity to the positive probabilities and possibilities of life. Thank you,
    • Sep 1 2012: Hi Rhona
      Thanks for joining in.
      Yes I agree. The solution that I propose with is to create self reliant communities in which people feel they play an integral part. The destruction of civic values through globalization has disintegrated communites. It has left people feeling isolated and impotent. Along with the points you made, this isolation and impotence creates fear and anxiety as well. Civically active community life needs to be at the centre of the re-orientation.
      • Sep 1 2012: Hi Kevin,

        I certainly agree that many corporations and individuals are greedy so much as to take much more from the society than they contribute back. They also have negative influence on politicians and politics through their resources.

        However I think good corporations and wealthy individuals are necessary for our society to function well. It is a delicate balance. Unfortunately our laws and taxes seem to benefit and favor corporations and wealthy individuals.

        I think globalization brought lots of benefits thou in some instances there are problems, again because of avarice.

        The benefits of globalization, as I see it, is spread of knowledge, ideas, healthy competence and large community that is concerned with global problems. Through global interaction through the Internet we see amazing coordination and team work between individuals from around the world to tackle current problems?

        • Sep 2 2012: Hi Zdenek
          Thanks for contributing
          Where you use the term "Globalization" would be more accurately described as the "Internet".
          The term "Globalization" was coined as a business model. It is a simplistic view of the world as a mass market to be exploited by large scale economic enterprise. It is a term that caters to avarice. It supports the pursuit of monopolies and the destruction of anything that gets in the way of it's financial gain. It is having a malignant impact on the human super-organism i.e. communities. Here's an excerpt from my website which might interest you,
      • Sep 2 2012: Hi Kevin,

        Perhaps the term Globalization started as pure economical principle but today the word has broader meaning:

        I agree that monopolies are bad for everyone and reckless bankers, investors and companies also damage our economy and society. cheers
        • Sep 2 2012: That definition is certainly easier on the stomach. Though, I would would rather see "cooperation between localized cultures" rather than such a broad phrase as "interdependence of economic and cultural activities". While it's natural that the meanings of words evolve over time, it seems quite a radical change from it's original intent in a very short time span. That said, the term "international integration" is still in sync with the large-scale economic perspective of the originator.

          Yes to quote Mother Nature, "Diversity good, monopoly bad" :)
  • thumb
    Aug 31 2012: You are right; avarice is to the society what cancer is to the body.
    The desire to make money by any and every means is the root of all evil. Such desire brings out the worst in an individual; and it brings untold hardship and misery to communities.
    • Sep 2 2012: Hi Feyisayo
      Thanks for taking an interest.
      I think the desire for wealth and richness is by no means evil, if that desire is to create wealthy and healthy human super-organisms i.e. communities, and not just wealth at an individual level (which is avarice). "Like a twitbooktube for real-life communities"
  • Sep 5 2012: You might find a couple of facts about cancer (medical condition) interesting, and quite unsettling, when translated into the social context you propose.

    - Tumors owe their presence not only to the internal (intracellular) characteristics, but to the surrounding matrix.

    - From an evolutionary perspective, there is a dreading paradox when it comes to cancer cells. Cancer cells are actually, in developmental terms, superior to normal cells. This is mostly due to the vastly higher survivability rate, through mass cell division.

    -Additionally, there is an local "struggle" between older and newer breeds of cancer cells, creating even more resistant strains.

    -Treatment of cancer is a process that often harms the entire organism.
    • Sep 5 2012: Excellent comments Stevan
      Perhaps a cure for the medical condition may come from modelling it after the cure for social cancer. That is to say, rather than waging violent warfare on the cancer cells, convince the healthy cells not to buy into the unregulated growth system and be content to remain healthy contributors to the overall organism.
  • Aug 31 2012: Good one James
    Provided the money you used to buy the mansion wasn't gained through harming others, you should be free to enjoy your mansion any way you see fit.
    Of course, in a stable, vibrant community, security would less likely be an issue. ;)
    • thumb
      Sep 1 2012: Unless the purpose of that mansion was to try and fix the stability/security of the community to begin with by providing such a haven...
      • Sep 2 2012: Hi James
        I think that if you are a financially endowed individual choosing to live in a slum and you are concerned with community stability and security, you'd do better to invest in job creation and food production rather than building mansions as shelters.
        • thumb
          Sep 2 2012: well I do agree that job creation and food production is incredibly important but so is education. Education breaks that cycle
      • Sep 2 2012: I see now what you meant. Your mansion would be an educational building. Fair enough James. :)
  • Aug 31 2012: Yes, that's right James. It all comes down to values.
    Do we want to live in a mansion in the middle of a slum or do we want to lead a more modest and fulfilling life within a vibrant community?
    • thumb
      Aug 31 2012: If I were to own that mansion, I could turn it into a public school instead or something like that. Or just a place for anyone to hang out.

      Though security/vandalism/theft would be an issue...
  • Aug 31 2012: Hi Barry
    Thanks for joining in.

    The line is drawn when our self interest prevents others from pursuing their self interest.
    Again, the problem is the scale of the economic system. It is too easy for those large "persons" with limited liability to exploit vulnerable areas of the globe in pursuit of their immoderate desires.
    I think it is wise to recognize that our self interest ultimately lies in strong, stable and stimulating communites.
    Similarly, a cell in the body is best to limit itself to fulfilling it's role in the overall health of the organism as opposed to transforming itself into a tumour.
  • Aug 31 2012: Just to play devil's advocate:

    Avarice is the immoderate desire for wealth, and is a vice that is detrimental to all.

    However, self interest is inherent to humans, and without it there would be no humans.

    Where do you draw the line between necessary self interest and avarice?
    • thumb
      Aug 31 2012: I'd say the past the line that's off-limits is basic necessities like food, home, basic support for family. Anything beyond that is up for debate.
  • Aug 31 2012: Hi James
    Yes I agree. Publicly traded corporations are mandated to continually maximize financial profits as an obligation to shareholders (sadly at the expense of non-shareholders). This is how they justify exploiting vulnerable people and destroying ecosystems.

    Your second comment hits at the essence of the problem. Large scale economic ventures become detrimental, not necessarily intentioanally, but by the design of the global economic system at which they are the heart. Any local-scale business that modelled it's behaviour on large corporations would be kept in check by the community in which it resides and does business. Can you imagine a local business demanding child labour neighbourhoods and proposing that other areas of town be exempt from environmental laws in the name of maximizing their financial gain?

    I should also point out that by human super-organism, I mean villages, towns and cities. I don't mean an abstract global mass of humans.
    • thumb
      Aug 31 2012: The other thing is there are different kinds of companies out there. One such company is one that focuses on maximizing profits. The second kind is one that tries to do service to society, and profits are secondary, they're only a means to continue their services to society.

      The difference between a nonprofit organization vs a corporation is only the difference in what they value more.
  • thumb
    Aug 31 2012: A corporation's main goal is not to grow as big as possible and become detrimental to society. A corporation's goal is simply to make money. If something is more costly than it's worth, they'll get rid of it, like laying off people.

    But also, not every corporation or large company is out there to become detrimental to society. A lot of businesses are trying to do a service to society not harm it.