Sunday, August 5, 2012

The "real" seven deadly sins

The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, are traditionally listed as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.  I realize that these are from a different era, but seriously?  There is nothing worse than sloth and gluttony?  Our entire economic system is based on greed and envy.  And who really wants to rid themselves of lust -- except possibly a Catholic priest?

Here are a few "sins" that I consider to be far more dangerous than the traditional seven.  It is interesting to consider how many of these are directly related to religion.
  • Reism: The belief that human beings are merely things; objects to be used, and manipulated; capable of becoming property.
  • Categorism: Belief in a process of inventing groupings for humans, assigning individuals to membership in such arbitrary groupings, and ranking individuals according to the putative attributes of the groups.
  • Ethnocentrism: Belief that a particular ethnic group is superior to all others. Not the same as relishing the beauty and diversity of human culture, but rather myopically valorizing only one culture and devaluing all others.
  • Chauvinism: Belief that a particular political unit is superior to all others and worthy of absolute loyalty. Especially since the invention of the “nation-state,” chauvinism has provided a foundation for organized injustice.
  • Imperialism: Belief that it is right to impose the system and values of one group upon another based upon synergistic application of all of the sins and upon the abuse of differential power.
  • Monotheism: Belief that there is one and only one supreme supernatural being, based upon tales originally contrived to control the behavior of children and institutionalize the subordination of compliant adults.
  • Regret:  Wishing I had done something else. Regret for what I did not do.  This sin is paramount in the self-hate and torture of oneself. It is the paralyses, the stopper of creative thinking because the mind then preoccupies itself with the past and wishing it had done something else. 
  • Guilt: Guilt is the offspring of regret. It supports failure because you deserve failure for what you did or should have done. While carrying guilt everything good you want to do is tainted. Guilt smears success. It thwarts your every attempt to do well or go forward. It won't let you achieve success because you know you don't deserve it
  • Doubt:  Regret for mistakes, guilt for having hurt or failed, sets the stage for doubt. With our minds and hearts filled with regret and guilt, how can we be sure the decisions we make are right?  Doubt stops us from feeling what is right or wrong -- what we should or should not do. We cannot make good decisions when we are in doubt.
  • Fear: The root of doubt is fear. Fear of making the wrong decision. Fear of losing. Fear of death. Fear of poverty. As long as there is fear there is no rest. There is no joy. There is no love. Fear fills our ever move with trembling. Decisions made out of fear are always sure to fail, to hurt, to cause regret, guilt and doubt.  Fear-based decisions sabotage all the good you wish for yourself or others.  It is interesting that the Biblical God relies so much on fear to motivate people.


  1. Doubt and regret play an important role in our inner feedback loop. Of course it is preferable to give a decision enough forethought to feel confident in it, but human nature gets in the way, and emotions sometimes usurp the process. Doubt and regret are indicators that perhaps the wrong decision was made. And if the thought of making a decision causes doubt or regret, then perhaps the decision warrants more thought. If we relegate Doubt and Regret to a deadly sin, don't we pen ourselves into an impossible standard of always being right? Hardly the human condition, at least not mine.

  2. Excellent comment. Perhaps "sin" is the wrong word. I do believe doubt and regret can be paralyzing, however. I'm experiencing a world of both right now for reasons that I won't go into. Suffice it to say that I wish I could eliminate both of them from my life.