From Socialist Voice, December 2006

The one deadly sin

In the rare oul’ times, we all knew our place and the Ten Commandments off by heart. And if that wasn’t enough, Mother Church—in her age-old wisdom—added on the Seven Deadly Sins, which we memorised likewise. There they were, the Seven Deadliers: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. And if you translated any one of the deadliers into action you were guilty of a mortaller. Hell fire for all eternity! No joke that, being beset by white-hot pokers, non-stop.
    But since hell fire was abolished by the last Pope, what’s the scene now with these deadliers and mortallers? Not a thousand miles from the opulent suburb of Inchicore, Brickrew had the opportunity to test the knowledge of the up-and-coming generation regarding some of these important matters. And, sad to say, the universal answer to his simple question “What do you know about the Seven Deadly Sins?” was “The wha’?”
    What has changed, then? While slaking his thirst in a local hostelry Brickrew pondered this question deeply and came to the following sensational conclusion: the Seven Deadly Sins have now become the Six Deadly Virtues.
    Pride, for example, now luxuriates under the respectable labels of self-assertion and self-esteem. Covetousness, now known as ambition, is the engine that drives the whole show. And its first cousin, envy (now called competitiveness), is a more than willing helper. Lust is now seen as being a cool thing to have when you are uninhibited or liberated (or just cool), which every cool person wants to be. Any fool can tell you that anger is now called assertiveness, an extremely cool virtue if you are a cool, up-and-coming executive. Gluttony is hardly regarded popularly as a deadlier, given the plague of obesity that now besets Ireland and other “developed” countries. Cool gluttons are known as “bon-viveurs” and haunt, for example, Dublin’s “upmarket” restaurants.
    So, six of the Seven Deadly Sins have now become the Six Deadly Virtues. Okay, so how about sloth? Sloth, apparently, is the only deadly sin common to both the Christianity we knew and the consumer culture of neo-liberal capitalism that we know too well. For the with-it, slothful folk are just too lazy to go out and buy. Think! If sloth caught on it would screw up the whole shebang. Definitely not cool!

[Dan Brickrew]

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