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The Seven Deadly Sins

As we examine them now, the words appear so antiquated it is difficult to take them seriously. To the medieval conscience, however, they were very pertinent:

  • Gluttony
  • Lechery
  • Avarice
  • Pride
  • Sloth
  • Envy
  • Ire

The question is, do they apply to us today?
     It helps to translate these ideas into modern terminology: piggishness; lewd behavior; greed; arrogance; laziness; resentment for another person's possessions or qualities; and anger.
Considered as such, they do apply to the world we live in and are worth considering. Not only do each of these sins or vices or human weaknesses harm a man's character and causes trouble elsewhere, they make us ripe for outside manipulation.
     Gluttony—considered more of a vice than a sin, the percentage of overweight people in the United States is a national embarrassment. Not only does gluttony harm a person's self-esteem, it is a health hazard as well. Part of the reason for this problem is the incredible availability of food that we enjoy, and jobs that tax the brain more than the body. Parents often teach their children that certain treats constitute a reward for good behavior. Eating is considered a social ritual as well. Many of our favorite foods provide a lot of calories and very little nutritional value. At the root of gluttony, however, is the need for immediate gratification, and this can be viewed as a personality fault.
     Lechery—lewd behavior is becoming more and more acceptable in our society, thanks to an entertainment industry ever-willing to push the limits to increase their ratings. Our sensitivities are getting more anesthetized to it, and that means we are becoming less sensitive as people.
     Avarice—greed is no longer considered a vice in our world of rampant capitalism. In fact, the general consensus is that greed is a good thing. Our economy is the better for it. One can never have enough. Conspicuous consumption has become a badge of honor, even in a world where poverty still exists and natural resources cry out for conservation.
     Pride—we tend to admire rude arrogance as if it were synonymous with strength. In truth, it is a lack of self-discipline which real strength requires. Ego-pride is selfish and creates men of shallow depth.
     Sloth—it is easy to become lazy in a society where parents ask nothing of their children and cater to their every whim. In the end, laziness reflects values. People who are lazy do not recognize the value of action. What is worse, they might feel themselves entitled to the labor of other people.
     Envy—materialistic competition thrives on propagating envy, but is it a healthy way to live? Envy eats at the heart, destroys friendships and leads to foolish decisions.
     Ire—despite all the benefits of our free society and the marvelous advancements of technology, there is an undercurrent of anger in the United States. We hear people advocating social injustice and war and religious one-upmanship with the kind of hostility we would expect from people who are threatened with the prospect of extinction. It has divided our nation along party grounds, feeding on unimportant differences. Political opponents define themselves not by their virtues or personal qualities or even their vision of the future, but by their opposition. Common ground is barely recognized anymore, and this is more of a threat to our democracy than anything else.

     These vices not only damage us as people, they place us in the hands of those who would profit from our weaknesses. Businesses not only count on our greedy consumption of things we don't need, they market their goods in such ways as to encourage it. Sexuality permeates both marketing and the entertainment world in order to catch our attention to sell us goods. Advertisements appeal to our pride and envy. Religious leaders and politicians emotionally provoke our anger in order to garner support they do not deserve for causes that ultimately harm our people. Business marketing sugar coats all our weaknesses and convinces us that temptation is a good thing.
     Chivalry and self-discipline allow us to rise above these obvious ploys. They provide us with the morality that the business and political world cannot.


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