Saturday, December 22, 2012

Idle Iterations? (seventh of seven)

Original sin, says Scott Peck, is Laziness. Laziness is 'entropy', he affirms. Big word! 'Sin' by contrast is so small; so endemic to our culture that we bandy it about as a commodity. Goodness knows enough money has been raked in throughout history over fears of sin. And if idle hands are the devil's companions (or some such thing) then might it best not serve to understand precisely what we mean by that little word, sin, particularly when yoked to an expensive word such as ‘entropy’? After all, a 'mental-block' phrase like entropy can be off-putting enough, let alone our therewith contemplating the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. It takes up our energy! Why not just say that ‘in idleness we head toward stases’? Why then is that a 'sin'?

Dictionary definitions make sin 'a moral offence'. Yet in considering the enculturation of morals in our societies, one's sin is another's delight. But to Peter, Paul and Mary, or to Tom, Dick, and Harry sin basically means doing intentional harm. Even in unintentionally harming oneself we disregard our negative impact. A sin! Yet 'sin' is an easily overused buzzword for a host of apparent acts, a selling point for a plethora of odd commercial products, and a readily deployed oxymoron to boot. It all can be sinfully delightful. And no, I do not speak of perfume, neither just of chocolate.

The Seven Sins are Deceit, Anger, Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, and Sloth. No special order. Which of these cardinal terms entirely escapes any of us? The degree to which one is involved in habituation determines our predominance. We may indeed be practicing all seven, but the unchecked proclivity for a given predominance establishes one of them as a sin of such proportions that it becomes observable, if not by the self, then by others. And the sin lies in that the habit adversely affects others. And Laziness, or Sloth, is the sin of not applying oneself to fulfill one's potential. What potential? The drive to be 'more better.' That ‘more’, essentially, is about Integration. Sloth is the sin of not caring. Sloth is the sin of being selfish. Sloth is stasis.

Perhaps deep in our programming are the seeds of evolution. We feel a need to learn, to apply learning, as Robert Browning would have "our reach exceed our grasp, or what's a Heaven for?" We are geared for growth. And those who do not contribute, participate, let alone accelerate the process that may stir at our own souls are deemed to be indolent, lazy, slothful. "What a waste," we may affirm. We may use deception to get such an one off the couch, anger to control such a one, shame to provoke his pride, show things to get him envious, even lust to get him stirred, for of all the sins it is laziness that most brings down the status quo, that devolves the human condition toward (wait for it...) entropy! At least, that’s what Dr. Scott Peck seems to say (worth a look?) He asserts that every moment that the mind or instincts lets go of the need to pursue a thought, the impulse to aspire toward something greater, we are being lazy. Idle. A sloth!

Laziness manifests itself in our avoiding conflict (unless we adroitly are managing another’s provocations). Laziness creeps upon us when we cannot be bothered, do not choose to understand, do not care to take the time, will not spend the effort, let others do the thinking, do not do the decision making, will not take on responsibility, and allow circumstances to direct our course. Laziness lets us not feel guilty, not care about another, and not think about our adverse impact on others. And as such, laziness, if Scott Peck is right, is the spirit seeking not to evolve, but just to be left alone to satisfy its own ends. If one's contribution to the health of the whole be a reason one is born, then laziness is the biggest sin. But that's a big ‘if’! Even that energetic writer, Ayn Rand, would have it that the sole purpose of the individual is to make the very best of himself, in spite of others! Tally ho! And no, it’s not just “off to work I go”. Ha!

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