The Psychology of Money, Happiness and Eternal life - Greed (director's cut)
By DW - 23. June 2017
Can money and power ever make us happy?
How much is enough?
Our constant desire for more is allegedly part of our human nature.
Some call it a useful dowry of evolution, others a fault in the human genetic make-up: The old mortal sin Greed seems to be more ubiquitous than ever.
Why can't people ever get enough, where is this self-indulgence leading - and are there any ways out of this vicious circle of gratification?
"People like to have a lot of stuff because it makes them the feeling of living forever," says American social psychologist Sheldon Solomon, who believes today's materialism and consumerism will have disastrous consequences.
Anyone who fails to satisfy his or her desires in this age of the Ego is deemed a loser.
But with more than 7 billion people on the Earth, the ramifications of this excessive consumption of resources are already clear.
Isn’t the deplorable state of our planet proof enough that "The Greed Program," which has made us crave possessions, status and power, is coming to an end?
Or is the frenzied search for more and more still an indispensable part of our nature?
We set off to look for the essence of greed. And we tell the stories of people who - whether as perpetrators or victims or even just as willing consumers - have become accomplices in a sea change in values.
Director’s Statement by Jörg Seibold
The question of what drives us has interested me for a long time: Why we act the way we do – public figures, people around me and of course I myself...
For example: Why I consume things that I do not actually need. Why I am all too happy to ignore the consequences of the sometimes thoughtless consumption, which will ultimately rebound on ourselves and our children. Why I sometimes look at others and compare myself with them – and then come up with completely new needs. And finally, why is it apparently so important to “represent something,” be it through possessions, status or recognition.
Admittedly, the question of human nature is a “tough nut" that many before me have pondered – and there are probably just as many answers.
But in a time when I believe human madness is increasing dramatically, perhaps it is worth questioning not just the global absurdity – terrorism, religious fanaticism, megalomaniac politicians, senseless wars, the mindless destruction of the environment, financial crises and predatory capitalism, flight and expulsion, and even the destruction of our own livelihoods through global warming…
It is much easier to start with oneself: for example, with the simple question as to what really satisfies me and when to I feel in harmony with my fellow men? And what have I been talked into from outside me – that I need this, you have to have that, that will make me happy...?
I don’t think we even notice how much we have been “conditioned” in many life situations. How we have been manipulated, driven or reflexively do things that seem to give us security and stability.
I have long suspected that a lot of our dissatisfaction could have to do with our constant wanting – with the widespread feeling of being left behind, with the greed for more. In the end, I came up with the idea of using a film to explore my search for answers.
My meetings with the protagonists, especially with Sheldon Solomon, greatly impressed me and opened my eyes in many respects – especially Solomon’s preoccupation with Ernest Becker and his “Terror Management Theory.” Ultimately, however, only “immersion” in such diverse worlds as that of the ex-banker Rudolf Elmer, the entrepreneur Philip Chiyangwa, the Buddhist teacher Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche or the shaman Angaangaq in Greenland’s frozen wastes created an overall picture that confirmed my idea of where “the good life” can really be found.
Ultimately, I am not trying to expose or idealize any of the protagonists or “convert” the viewer in some way. And so Khandro Rinpoche's and Angaangaq's message is both simple and challenging: “The answers are to be found in ourselves – deep inside.”
I can only say that I am happy I went off on my search. And, in answer to a colleague’s question whether I had now become a different person: Yes. The film has changed me...
Check out our web special: https://www.dw.com/en/tv/greed/s-32898