Many and varied modern activities presented themselves for examination, nomination, short listing and prize giving in my theoretical 8th Deadly Sin award scheme. It was an exhausting process of elimination. It became obvious that many modern and seemingly new sins could be shoe-horned into the existing 7. A startling number just begged to be shovelled into the gaping hole marked Greed, which I think of as a subcategory of Gluttony allied with Avarice, Acquisitiveness and Materialism.
What marked this particular chosen activity out as a contender (to rival Marlon Brando’s Terry Malloy) was not so much that it created a new category but that it seemed to combine more than half of the headline sins. Certainly Pride is involved but also Covetousness, Gluttony and Sloth. I could see no evidence of Lechery but if I could have identified Anger and Envy there might have been an opportunity for a memorable acronym.
The nomination goes to the use of bio-fuel. Broadly speaking this means taking stuff that hungry poor people could eat and making motor fuel to power our overused vehicles.
I’m not going to dish out a whole Parson’s Tale deal here on the Seven Deadly Sins. Who would dare tread on Chaucer’s toes in that way? Suffice to say, if there had been such an abomination in Chaucer’s day, the use of bio-fuel may well have got the medieval personification treatment and warranted its own tale.
The idea that we have the right to do this fulfils the requirements of the definition of Pride so we’ll put that one to the side. Let us move to Covetousness, which is at the heart of global exploitation. The Haves are not content to use their own resources but turn beady eyes on the rich assets of the Have-nots in countries too poor or under-resourced to defend, develop and use them for their own people. Let’s face it, the G8 countries would be very different places if they weren’t permanently operating with their hands in other countries’ cookie jars, slapping away the malnourished hands of indigenous populations.
At this level, Greed, as over-consumption, takes on a whole new aspect. Greed or Global Gluttony is killing them by deprivation and us in the West; not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We know we have too much of everything but all our efforts are being put into making sure we can keep devouring at this devastating level. Think of that post-Christmas Dinner feeling. We are creating that effect with our general consumption every day.
Sloth in this context is more a kind of inertia. This may seem contradictory but imagine an obese guy at a table stuffing himself with fat burgers and he doesn’t stop – not because he can’t but because he can’t be bothered. A subtle distinction but that is where we are at. The effort of changing our behaviour seems greater to us than continuing with the deadly pursuit of over-consumption.
I’ve often wondered why dishonesty was not an original Deadly Sin (not to be confused with Original Sin – boy this could get complicated) but maybe it just goes without saying. Like it goes without saying – literally – that we cannot carry on the way we are. No one says it. (Yes – I know dishonesty is in the Ten Commandments but we’re on sins here not commandments so get off my case.)
It is somehow easier to promote the lie that we can ‘science’ our way out of the current mess. ‘Discovering’ new forms of exploitable energy is euphemism for saying we intend to carry on using at our current rate rather than bite that particular bullet, the ‘we-have-to-change’ bullet.
In the world we live in, how mad is using food for fuel?
Tomorrow, try denying your own family food for just one whole day and tell them it’s because it’s going in the petrol tank...