Today I direct your attention to a post from Fr. Stephen Freeman. Freeman is one of the largest and most influential Eastern Orthodox bloggers, and he blogs at Glory to God for All Things. This post is entitled “To Have More – Pleonexia“.
In this post Freeman offers a much richer term for greed: the Greek word “pleonexia” which translates as “the desire to have more”. This term suggests a problem which is far more pervasive than just a simple desire to accumulate material possessions, which is all that we associate with the word greed. Instead it affects all areas of our lives, as it is a desire to have more of everything–possessions, money, sex, entertainment, food, leisure, etc. It drives others away from us, reducing them to the position of grudging competitors for our time, our attention, our plans, our interests, our pleasure, etc. It isolates us, making us less than fully human.
The way of self-renunciation, of dying to ourselves and taking up our cross, is not anti-life, it is in fact countercultural to the ethos of pleonexia which pervades our entire society. We were created for community and communion with others, not for the incessant desire for more of all things which lies at the heart of our society and which only drives us deeper into isolation and alienation from others. It is in prioritizing others over our incessant desire for more that we find life.