When I wrote about the Pilgrims last week, I included an end to the story; I told you that eventually, the Pilgrims were no longer friends with those same people whom they invited to the harvest celebration.
Eventually, the Pilgrim folks inspired more people to come over from the “mother country.” Those folks moved in, decided they needed more land, took over native ground; well… you know.
Indeed, almost every explorer-type unit I teach eventually ends with the newcomers taking over, mistreating the natives, enslaving folks, war, etc. Rarely is there a happy ending. At least not right away.
I also teach “theme” in class, and I asked my students about all the people we’ve already talked about this year: Columbus, the Jamestown settlers, the Pilgrims and so on. Eventually, they were enemies of the Native Americans. Eventually, Columbus and his bunch mistreated the natives and enslaved them. The others took too much land. On and on it goes.
I asked my students to tell me what the reoccurring theme was. What did all of these events in history have in common?
As usual, I have an enthusiastic bunch ready to answer. After a plethora of good answers, one particular student continued to strain and grunt. The face of this student said “I have the answer and you must call on me.” So I did.
“Greed,” he said. One word. The other students had gone into detail. All of the teachers on my team have been teaching about elaboration, details, and explanations and so on. We encourage students to tell more.
But everyone was silent. This student had hit the nail right on the head. Greed; this was indeed the theme. The ongoing theme of all these explorer stories. Indeed, the ongoing theme of much of our history.
I don’t know why certain comments stick with me so much, but I started thinking about greed quite a bit.
As usual, I examined my own life and saw greed in many places. I deal with it every day, from hiding a favorite snack from my kids to not digging out the few bills I have in my pocket when I pass any type of collection box or person who might need it.
Being a history buff, I began to see the theme of greed throughout history. Even when some folks were fighting for what they thought was a good cause, greed was usually behind it all.
Now, you wouldn’t think that 1970s television had anything to do with the Pilgrims. However, I made a correlation last week. Michelle and I had watched an interview with Valerie Harper. You know her: she played Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show way back when.
Harper now has terminal cancer. Her life expectancy was only a few months when she was diagnosed, but she has surpassed that date. In fact, she’s in pretty good health right now.
Lately, Valerie has been in the news and has been getting acting jobs. She’s probably working more these days than she has in a while.
The really big deal is she was given a slot on the popular show “Dancing with the Stars.”
I haven’t watched the show regularly, but every now and then I catch who’s on the show. The powers that be are not dummies: they seek out folks for that show who will grab ratings.
The other night when I tuned in, Valerie happened to be dancing her last dance. Cancer or not, the judges had voted her off the show. This was, in more ways than one, her swan song.
It was a little tearful. She bravely stood there and told everyone how grateful she was to have had an opportunity to dance again (she started her career as a dancer, they said). There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
But after it was all over (you see, I’m still thinking about greed), I sat and wondered how much of the casting had to do with ratings and making money. I wondered if they had asked Valerie on the show as a tribute to her many years of work in the entertainment industry.
The more I thought about, the more I thought “Who cares?” I’m sure someone at one point said “And boy, will folks tune in if we pick HER to be on the show.” Someone had to have thought it if nothing was ever said.
Maybe I’m being too cynical and maybe I’m thinking too much. I’m guilty of that.
Whatever the case, I only hope there were more good feelings than greedy feelings. I hope it was never mentioned to Valerie Harper how much money the show would make or how high ratings would be.
I suppose greed is something that is just in us. We all have a little of it, I suppose. I’ve met folks who I doubt have much of it as they are selfless and good folks.
But still, it makes me think; I mean, I wonder how our country, our daily lives, our relationships and pretty much everything would be different if greed weren’t an issue.
Shoot. Now I’m starting to think back to Adam and Eve. I’ll need to save that story for another day. You see, other people need some of the space I’m taking up.
I don’t want to be greedy.