If you really think about the seven deadly sins, it’s isn’t just the trait that is a sin, but excessiveness of that trait.
Lust isn’t a bad thing in itself, but excessive lust is.
Anger or wrath generally only becomes a problem when expressed inappropriately or excessively.
Gluttony already implies excessive, so it’s good to go.
The trait of Envy is kind of obnoxious, but until it’s strong enough for someone to act on it, is it really a Sin with a capital ‘S’?
My personal issues have to do with Greed and Pride.
Once again, Greed implies excessive behavior. Let’s back off from that a bit and look at just the desire to increase one’s wealth. That isn’t really a bad thing inherently.
However, as someone who grew up more familiar with poverty, I have never had a very good view of wealth. I remember the times I was around extremely wealthy people when traveling with my father as a child and I really considered them to be sociopathic about their desire to accumulate more wealth. (It was later in life when I learned the word ‘sociopathic’, but when I heard the definition these people were exactly what I thought of.)
My experience with those considered just ‘well off’ in my own home town also wasn’t all that great. I can remember getting picked on a bit by such people’s children, and my experience with the adults was less than stellar.
This led me to a belief that wealth is bad. Only bad people got ahead in life. For a long time my relationship with money was pretty unhealthy. Sure, everyone wants to be rich, right? Not me. Not as a young man anyway. The idea of having access to all the benefits wealth brings sounded great, but I had this idea that I would practically have to sell my soul to attain that.
In the last decade I’ve been throwing this belief off. I guess I have, to some extent, been embracing greed. That’s greed with a lower-case ‘g’ though. ☺
Who thinks a little bit of pride is a bad thing?
Me. Absolutely I do. I hate the idea of making someone else feel bad because they may not be doing as well as I am. I downplay my successes, I give other people a chance to get ahead by limiting myself and I constantly throw up barriers to my own success.
Wrestling might be the best example in a way. When I was in the 4th or 5th grade I was a kick-ass wrestler. In practice I was having a great time and I was well-nigh unstoppable. In actual competitions I lost nearly every match. The coach was Pissed (with a capital ‘P’, probably bordered on Wrath). With each opponent I could tell that the win was more important to them than it was for me. Winning wasn’t important to me, wrestling for fun was. This was kind of joke in my family for a while, just a funny trait I had that we would sometimes laugh about. Now, I don’t think it’s all that funny.
Obviously, this affects my ability to succeed. I can tell I hold myself back at times because I don’t want others to feel bad. The ‘Sin’ is one part Pride and one part succeeding when others aren’t. The problem is, there are always those who are less fortunate, and limiting myself doesn’t help them. As a matter of fact, it limits my ability to be a part of the solution.
This leads to Sloth. Laziness isn’t all we’re talking about here. I’ve been lazy before, as most people have. But Sloth is more than that. Sloth is the sin of failing to live up to one’s potential. If I had a talent for making art that truly made other people happy and I refused, that would be a Sin; Sin with a capital ‘S’.
So these three are related, my fear of Greed and Pride, leading to my sin of Sloth.
I embrace the idea that I have been Slothful. I have been sinning against myself, those around me and against the force that created me. Damn it, if I gave someone chocolate cake I made myself and they hid it under their bed because they felt bad for starving people in Africa, I would be really irritated. If I have been given the abilities to improve my life and the lives of other around me, and I don’t make use of them, it is Sin.
I now embrace Greed, I now embrace Pride, each to an appropriate degree, and I embrace that I have committed the sin of Sloth. I embrace my belief that my own success does not bring others pain. I embrace the idea that I can be wealthy and loving and humanitarian.
And now I will re-create a wealthier, happier, Me who is proud of who I am and what I am accomplishing.
*Note: My ideas here are based on young Dave’s view of the Seven Deadly Sins as first presented to me, oh, I don’t know, probably in comic books. I know there are volumes of rhetoric on this subject and I am aware of the more sophisticated definitions and the history. That’s not really relevant for the purpose of this brain-dump.
(PS. This was written quite a while ago, I’ve just re-added it to this website today for the refresh.)