Subtle greed is insidious

Subtle greed is insidious

When I was an undergraduate student, during my frosh year, I was guilty of an insidious mindset. I thought that the best way was to have the least amount of effort for the highest amount of grade. Positively, this could be framed as “working smart”. But negatively, with hindsight, I’d frame this mindset as “subtle greed”.

This mindset is insidious because it breeds entitlement and predisposes a person to game the numbers. It can put authentic learning on the sidelines. This mindset initially made me view grade consultations as a game of haggling, bargaining, and negotiating with my professors. Now, I realize that this mindset made me an inauthentic student during my early college years.

Looking at my journey in college, I recall meaningfully the courses that I barely passed or those courses where I put a lot of effort but was very satisfied with a 2.5 grade (in the DLSU system, 0.0 is fail, 1.0 is pass, 4.0 is exemplary). Now, as a teacher, I lament instances where students would bargain not to pass a course, but to turn a 3.5 into 4.0 under the pretense of being a Latin honors candidate.

Fortunately, I was able to get a hold of myself in my latter years as an undergraduate and carried a respectable work ethic in my masteral and doctoral journey. Indeed, the best way is a reasonable amount of effort for the highest amount of learning – that time, I knew my weaknesses, what I was willing to sacrifice, and what I needed to preserve to maintain my mental health. And this mindset, I’d like to believe, put me in a space where I can better thrive as a whole person.

The tricky thing with “subtle greed” is it’s hard to notice and easy to justify. It takes a very sober understanding of our weaknesses to stare at ourselves in the mirror and say: “This is not good enough, this is not who I am, and this is not who I am meant to be.”

Mark 12:1-12. But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the owner’s son. Come on, let’s kill him, and his property will be ours!’


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