While having one of my philosophical chats at work, (you tend to find a surprising number of fascinating minds at a rest stop/welcome center) I came to a realization that the most famous list of what-not-to-do’s on earth – the seven deadly sins – is in dire need of an update.
The current deadly sins were conceived of back in the 4th century and our understanding of things has changed a great deal since then. So, like a tech geek scanning his software vulnerabilities, I’ll be going through and updating the sins to make a more modernized list of things you shouldn’t be doing if you want to avoid being an a-hole.
This one is just plain vanilla stupid…
You’re going to notice a pattern with most of these sins; that they attempt to curb bad behavior, but are defined too broadly to be practical. Lust is no different.
Lust seeks to control unbridled sexual desires and force sexual responsibility. However, sexual desire is also what promotes procreation and ensures the continuation of a species. It’s perfectly natural; let it do its job.
That said, the idea of responsibility – in regards to sex and in general practice – is a good idea. So perhaps what needs to be done here is just change the language around a bit to provide more focus on the real problem. The issue isn’t lust; it’s irresponsibility.
Gluttony and Greed
In the interest of logic and simplicity, I’m going to bundle these two together.
Gluttony and Greed, overconsumption and coveting material goods, are practices that seem good to avoid. But if you ever looked closely at the list, it seems far too strict.
Gluttony is the worst offender in this regard. Eating too expensively, eating too daintily, eating too much, eating too soon, and eating too eagerly are all considered gluttonous acts.
But in all honesty, shouldn’t you be allowed to enjoy the things you’ve earned? You bought the cool toys, you bought/raise the great food, and should be yours to enjoy.
Where gluttony and greed become a problem is when you have so much, but refuse to let others that are clearly in much more need than you partake in your excess. Hell, even five-year-olds know the importance of sharing.
So, let’s simplify and focus the list by combining these two into a new paradigm I call ‘uncharitably’.
Sloth and Envy
I’ll be combining both of these as well for reasons that will be made more obvious later on.
Sloth is a great big pain in the tailpipe to define as it covers several ‘bad behaviors’ from antiquity. Generally speaking these days, we liken it to laziness. And while I’d argue that a few days of rest should be allowed (no one can keep running at full steam forever), it’s actually pretty good as a sin and something to keep in mind.
Envy, on the other hand, is less forgivable.
Envy covers great desire – much like lust, gluttony, and greed – but subtracts the actual possession of the thing you desire. Already, this seems redundant and needs to be stricken. Not to mention, that the desire for something is often a driving force that pushes you to work for it.
However, when you stop to think about what happens when envy is allowed to grow IN THE PRESENCE of sloth, then you get a bunch of lazy MFers that want it all while everyone else does all the hard work (the ‘one-percent’ as we call them today).
So, once again, let’s create a new sin from these two and we shall call it ‘hedonism.’
Okay, back to the singular sins…
At first glance, wrath DOES seem wholly bad. People tend to do stupid things when they’re angry after all.
But excluding anger from your life entirely is just as detrimental if not more so. I’ve gone on record saying that anger is what motivates people to fight against a system that’s hurting them and the ones they love.
So when is wrath a bad thing? When it causes you to harm innocent people. When your wrath becomes so great and goes untempered by compassion for so long that you are motivated to destroy property or unjustly harm lives – when you are moved to violence – that is when wrath does its worst.
And finally, we come to MY sin. I call it my sin because it is the one that I and, in my humble opinion, most creative personalities are ‘guilty’ of.
This is the one that started me on this philosophical track and all because I spoke one line; “Whoever called pride a deadly sin has never known the joy of creating something beautiful.”
There is nothing wrong with having pride in your work and what you do. It’s a feeling of accomplishment after a successful venture. No one should be robbed of that feeling.
Pride is only an issue when you allow it blind you to the truth; when you are so convinced that what you’re doing is right that you continue to push forward at the cost of yourself and others.
Of course, that’s not pride; that’s delusion – the presence of pride and blind faith without the guiding hands of insight and skepticism… and it is possibly the deadliest sin of all. One need look no further than the Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the Westboro Baptist Church, and Donald Trump supporters to see the dangers of delusion.
So, after all going through the entire list and making the necessary changes, I present you with my simplified and modernized list of…
The Five Deadly Sins
Irresponsibility – The act of seeking pleasure at the cost of self and others
Uncharitably – The refusal to give to those in need when your needs are more than adequately met
Hedonism – The desire for pleasure without the drive to earn it
Violence – The act of destroying property and/or life in cold blood
Delusion – The act of remaining willfully ignorant and unquestioning of the world
Now that’s a list, people! Simple, honest, and direct. Dante and Virgil could have made it through purgatory in time for the Red Sox game with a list like that. Plus, five is just a more psychologically pleasing number than seven.