Over the past week, Nancy, the musuem's Educator and Ray, our Distance Learning Developer have been hard at work defining a list of personalities that were active in what is now western New York during our study period, 1650 - 1850. They will have 15 or that we will begin researching their activities in detail to see how personal desires motovated them.
While they are digging into the musuem's archives and library to find people, I have been studying the concept of Human Desire. The exhibition will combine people and desires to develop conclusions on how human desires, such as greed forged the western New York we know today.
The concept of greed, acquiring more of some material posession that one could ever use or need, is something we all can relate to. Greed is always what the other person has. "You are greedy" Seldon will the healthy personality refer to them selves as being greedy. Greedy is not so much a desire but label given to those who have an unrelented pursuit of economic gain beyond what their society considers healthy.
Is greed good or bad? Only society can answer that question because societial norms regulate behavior. Maybe a little greed is good in some societies. In others, such as the Native American there was no ownership of land or property and being described as a greedy had a low threshold.
If we accept the premis that human nature in its essential qualities the same among all men then what specifically prompts some to pursue then what is it in people that motivate them to seek material posessions in excess of sociatial norms?
This leads to the age old sociological question, "Is man basically evil and his actions contrilled by his society's norms or is man basically good and it is society that corrupts and governs devient actions?
These are issues that we will use in defining our personalities who affected the early development of our region.
In addition to greed we will be looking at other behaviors, self preservation, control over others, fear of failure, and the like.
The exhibition will not only be a study into our region's past but a study of the sociology and norms of the times that regulated behaviors. What was considered greedy in 1650 may not be what is considered greedy in 1850. So we may be aiming at a moving target.