Sunday, June 19, 2011

Seven Sins: Sloth

So far all the sins we have covered in these posts have been active sins.
That is that by an action originating in the freewill of the person a wrong act is made.
The person is then left to feel bad about it and has to seek pittance.
Whatever wrong, freewill and pittance may mean to you in this context.

So you can not stay still, you have to act because even through inaction you can not avoid sin.
This is a major point of disagreement with other more contemplative models of faith in which the search for the self is more important.

Yet in this troubled times Sloth is indeed a sin.

The system under which we live has been abused. The mechanism that as a society we have evolved in order to manage wealth has been turned against the people that it served. The people that work. By luring us with promises of a more comfortable materialistic life. By valuing money as the unique form of wealth.

Our instincts abused through advertising tricking us into consuming.
Making us believe that consuming is the only way we can interact with each other. That it is our money that matters and not our presence in this planet or in society.
That we have have to not fall pray to Sloth and join the rat race that this society has imposed on us.

For many a time I used to be one of those rats. Taking the Waterloo and City line in London. Sharing a tin can of an underground carriage with fellow human beings, from which I knew nothing.
Yet they all fell into diverse stereotypes, and so much could be know about them by just looking at their clothes, their electronics, and the way they behaved.

I will always remember the smile of a lady dressed exactly like in a photograph in Metro under the headline, "City Chique, are you in?". My questions where then, Why put so much effort into becoming the cliché? Why is it so bad to grab the first thing you have in your cupboard? Why is it so bad to just look at clothes as protection from the weather? Which is what they are.
But above all why surrender our identity to blend into a collective  in which we all can be replaced for one another?

Sloth, or rather  the integration of that notion into the personal ethics forces people to go towards an interchangeability of beings. That lady could have very well been any of her style clones in the landscape of that underground carriage, and nothing would have changed for any of the passengers.
Yet The only person for which it would have changed would have been the lady itself. She factored herself out of the equation by putting so much effort into belonging to that class.
If she had just been wearing jeans and a t-shirt she would have not blend in, and most likely people would have noticed the lack of effort. She would have committed in public the unspeakable Sin of Sloth.

So in today's system the ideal of behaviour is so far away, from the natural, that you have to make an real effort to erase yourself into the homogenized mass. Yet because we are individuals deep down we need to feel like we make choices. In this consumerist model of self, the only choice that is left is that one of consumption. With the Machiavellian  twist that the more options you want to have the more you will pay. Perfumes, cosmetics and many more of those, make us replaceable. Plastic surgery makes us replaceable, styles and trends make us replaceable. Our education, and the values introduced, notably in the business world make us replaceable. With the only valid excuse for not reaching the standard being laziness, and  even that got made into a sin.

So we are only left with one choice, to all look, smell and taste alike or to admit confess our sin of laziness.

There is however another kind of Sloth which has not been played as a sin in the current system.
That of thought. The number one way of making sure we are all interchangeable parts of the machine is by making sure that we all think alike. Switch the brain off, introduce and endless bombardement of simple ideas, and we are ready for advertising and media to prey on us like if we where little lambs. We let them tell us what to think, we opened our wallets wide and splashed the fruit of all our efforts in order to melt into a continuum. But not thinking which is the real Sin, that no one told us about. Preserving our individuality, and our own criteria, for making our own decisions, that was the true danger.  Being independent, being unique.

Under this new light it is clear that Sloth is a sin. The inertia has let things go so far as to reach a situation which has become more than untenable for a lot of people in the planet. It was already so, only now the people in the first world are also feeling it. I refuse, however frail the social system was, and for the little time in history that it lasted to have it written down as an aberration. It is a sign of progress to consider caring for the other and that requires action. So lets start caring for each other in a truly meaningful way. By turning around and thinking what it is that we all collectively need. By looking at the big picture and fix things in the big picture, by tackling the true Sloth, the Sloth of thought, and not the one that pulls us away from the rat race.