Epidemiology is a specialized branch of medicine that deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health. The immense contributions of this branch of medicine to society, particularly in discovering the causes and treatments of various infections that had hitherto plagued our contemporary world, cannot be overemphasized. We are all aware that presently, the world is battling to curtail the coronavirus pandemic, and that medical researchers and epidemiologist have assiduously gone to work, day and night, to unravel and find a lasting cure to this pestilence in the midst of a total lockdown declared by various governments of the world. And hopefully, a solution is in the offing and this plague will certainly pass away!
But while acknowledging the exploits of medical researchers for their landmark advancement in public health worldwide, this discourse would however, specifically beam a searchlight on a subtle global pandemic that is annihilating humanity. This ailment is deadlier than COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, which has infected millions of people and killed hundreds of thousands, as I write this piece. Ladies and gentlemen we are all familiar with this sickness, we often use the word casually in most of our daily conversations and many of us even sermonize with it. This popular but largely disdained moral indisposition is called GREED.
But sadly, this nocuous malady that is plaguing the world has not only evaded the scientific observation and detection of sophisticated medical science but has also developed into a culture that is validated and strengthened by the politics and socio-economic ecosystems of the world. No government or international organization has ever declared ‘greed’ as an epidemic not to talk of being a pandemic in spite of its depredating effect on mankind
Now greed is defined as an intense selfish desire to acquire and accumulate what we do not need for basic survival. Such craving is abnormal to our original nature as humans. it is a contamination of our essence. The negative impact of avarice on the overall health of society is seen in the prevalence of deprivation and poverty mostly suffered by the less privileged. Comparatively, poverty ranks with some of the most prominent causes of death in the world. Numerous people die daily as a result of hunger, malnutrition, and inability to afford basic health care.
Now, let me show you some statistics on hunger as a leading cause of death, released by www.theworldcounts.com: These statistics on their website show that about 9 million people die every year of hunger and hunger-related diseases. This is more than from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
- A child dies from hunger every 10 seconds.
- Poor nutrition and hunger are responsible for the death of 3.1 million children a year. That’s nearly half of all deaths in children under the age of 5. The children die because their bodies lack basic nutrients.
- Globally, 822 million people suffer from undernourishment.
Another statistics on the incidence of poverty is even more horrific: Nearly half of the world population- more than 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty- less than $1.25 a day. Coming to Nigeria, the figure of people living in extreme destitution is even frightening- over 90 million people are extremely poor- surviving on less than $1.00 a day.
This quantum of fatalities attributed to hunger and hunger-related conditions is indeed appalling and mindboggling. But the pertinent questions we should be asking ourselves are: Why should people go hungry and even die in the process? Does it mean there is an acute shortage of food in the world for them to eat? No! The truth is that we have enough supplies to feed anybody that is famished. But hunger will persist as long as greed exists in the heart of men. Mahatma Gandhi was right after all when he asseverated that
“The earth has enough to meet our needs not enough to meet our greed”.
Now hear this. Greed is a terminal moral ailment that afflicts the soul of man. It contaminates the heart and poisons our compassion to love and share with one another. It is a moral ill-health and the symptoms are manifested in lustful cravings for material possessions and inordinate accumulations. It is cancerous and contagious. Humans were created with the heart to love – to love means to share our lives with others, to give of ourselves to support the livelihood of others. This is called the principle of fruitfulness. In other words, your life ought to produce ‘fruit’ (provision) to sustain the existence of others. Can you imagine what will happen to man and animals if plants refuse to bear fruit for us to eat. Do you know what that means? But ironically many of us are living ‘fruitless’ lives occasion by greed.
The bitter reality is that many of us go about chronically infested with this injurious virus called greed, and we are oblivious of the health implication on our souls and the negative impact on society. Greed is not a novel disease because its occurrence dates back to time immemorial. Its malignancy has festered over the years because we don’t understand its epidemiology. Unlike COVID-19 which is an infection of the physical body, greed is a contamination of the soul.
Medical researchers who study the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases lack the expertise to unravel the epidemiology of greed because it is not an ailment of the body. Religious teachers who are supposed to be authorities in moral issues are themselves consumed by the pestilence of greed. The society is not left out either. Our social infrastructure is built on the malady of acquisitiveness. The economic system has also institutionalized cupidity using materialism and primitive accumulation as a parameter for wealth and success
The time for self-diagnosis as individuals is now! Check your desires and cravings. If the only thing that makes meaning to you in life, is to have money and more money only for selfish use, my dear you are sick. The virus of greed is ravaging your soul. You must learn to differentiate between wants and needs. You can do without your wants- things you acquire for the sake of your ego and luxury.
Fortunately, greed has a ‘cure’. Are you surprised? Yes the cure for greed is ‘giving’- giving back to society and offering selfless service to humanity. Why do you think that most extremely rich people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and many others, after amassing so much wealth, set up foundations or initiatives to impact society with their riches? They understand the therapeutic effect of such a gesture to their afflicted souls. You may not need to be extremely rich to practice a lifestyle of giving. Learn to share the little you have right now with someone that has none. Make a daily commitment to give joy and hope to the needy and the less privileged around you. Therein lies the perfect health of your soul.
Azemobor Gregory is a messenger of Truth and the founder of Azemobor Gregory Foundation, a humanitarian organization promoting love and the welfare of the less privilege