Everyone has vices. When I think about this subject, my religious training from my childhood comes back to me. As a child I was taught about the “seven deadly sins” and how they can ruin your life. As I got older, I started to see things in a far different light. I wanted to break these down and discuss them in more detail.
As a child I was taught that sex, as well a my own body, was dirty and something to avoid. Thoughts of attraction or curiosity about my own sexuality or the opposite sex were treated shamefully. I was told that I could talk to my parents about anything, yet when I came to them about those kinds of questions, it felt like I was doing something wrong…as if I were in trouble. I knew so little about sex, that boys could easily take advantage of me, and they did. It didn’t take me long to figure out the games guys play and to realize that I was being taken advantage of, but the first couple of times were pretty painful…and I got in trouble at home when my mother found out.
For a child to grow up healthy, aware and unashamed, parents need to talk to them about sex and their bodies. Children need to feel comfortable touching their own bodies and asking questions about it. When children feel ashamed about themselves and their bodies, they cannot make good decisions concerning the people they allow into their lives to touch their bodies.
What a lot of people don’t get is that love and lust are related, whether they want them to be or not. A romantic relationship cannot succeed if there is no sexual attraction…or lust, involved. Most marriages end within 4-7 years. The cause listed is “irreconcilable differences.” If you ask the couples, they will tell you something like, “The spark was gone,” or “We just fought all of the time.” What they are really saying is that despite any “love” they might have for one another, they had lost the lust that brought them together in the first place. That sexual attraction is necessary for the relationship to remain healthy.
This is one that truly gets me. I have Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations sitting on my bookshelf as we speak. I am a capitalist. I believe in this system. At this point I think the US is doing it all wrong. We have laws that protect the multi-billion dollar corporations while punishing small businesses which is all wrong and backwards. At the very least we should have an even slate to work on. Unfortunately, as long as lobbyists exist in Washington, true capitalism will never exist in the US. Of course, a discussion about deadly sins is probably not the place for me to stand on a soapbox and preach about American Corporatism. Either way, everyone wants something. To call that “greed” seems…I don’t know…hypocritical? The fact that someone else has more than you…is that greed? Or is that just luck…or hard work on his part? In a capitalistic society we have opportunities. There are opportunities that do not exist anywhere else. I started on the streets when I was a teen. I now have a college degree. I have big plans for what I want to do next, and you know something, I can do it. That’s because I live in a place that will let me do the things I plan to do.
There a lot of people who struggle with this vice. Personally, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I have a hard time turning down desserts. I also love coffee and lattes. Fortunately I have a latte machine at home. That means I can make lattes with almond milk. (That cuts the calories significantly.) A latte made with skim milk, like at Starbucks will have roughly 300 calories. The ones I make here have about 70. That’s a big difference. I try to limit my cookies to one a day, but that doesn’t always work. Right now I wear a size 10 jeans. That puts me at an average weight, especially for my age (which is older than I’d like, but aren’t we all?).
This is probably the most common vice in the US today. There are many articles out there trying to tell us how to deal with it: be a vegan/vegetarian (tried that), count your calories (that, too), fad diets (oh gawd), and so much more. So what is the answer? I’ll tell you what’s been working for me. I eat as naturally as possible. I read my ingredient labels. If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it. Fruits, vegetables and meats I go organic, if possible. Since I shop at Trader Joe’s, it’s pretty easy for me. Sometimes I go to the farmer’s market for produce. My eggs are free range. Since I cannot get raw milk here, I get the almond milk. It’s probably better since it has far less calories anyway. Don’t worry about calcium, it’s everywhere, especially green leaf vegetables. Kale, broccoli, romaine lettuce and other dark green vegetables will have plenty of calcium. For exercise I simply walk. I walk to places I need to go instead of driving.
I have such a hard time finding fault here. So many people think pride and confidence are negative qualities. I disagree. Having pride in what you do and who you are helps to solidify your character. My significant other is probably one of the most arrogant people I’ve ever met. I find that to be one of his most redeeming qualities. He doesn’t think he’s awesome, he knows it. That important distinction makes all the difference for me. There is no unsure wavering.
The only thing that could be a drawback is someone who has fake pride. If someone pretends to be completely sure, yet isn’t, and gives false information, that could be detrimental. Someone who is truly confident will not hesitate to admit that they don’t know the answer to a question. I, personally, have done so on several occasions. Of course, my pride won’t allow me to leave it be. I feel the need to acquire the information and deliver it, even though I did not know to begin with.
While pride is love and confidence in your own abilities, vanity is is love and confidence in your own appearance. I find it interesting that thousands of years ago the society found it so deplorable to think yourself pretty that they would damn you to hell. Now, in our so called “civilized” society, we still have similar ideas. The concept that someone could look into a mirror and like what they see is wrong, and disgusting to us. We, in this society, encourage people to find fault in their appearance, in their character and in everything about them. We encourage failure, then wonder why the people in our society fail. It’s only the select few who can rise above this mass oppression who actually succeed.
Actions are what count, not thoughts. Everyone wants what someone else has at some point in their life. That is human nature. We see something that looks good and we think to ourselves, “Wow, I wish I could have something like that.” This often begs positive results. If someone sees a really nice car and wants to own one, then gets a better job, more income and a better lifestyle to be able to afford it, not only has he gotten what he wanted, he’s improved his life in process. Of course, a lot of people would simply put the charge on a credit card, go into debt and cause themselves and a lot of other people all kinds of problems. Some people see solutions, others see a quick fix that leads to disaster. It all depends on the person.
I work a lot. When I don’t work I don’t want to work. I suppose I feel justified in thinking that I’ve put in overtime, so I’m entitled to some rest. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I can try. Some people need more rest than others. Who are we to judge how much is too much? Sleep is necessary for the body to survive. Each body is different. One body may need more rest than another. It’s not up to me to tell someone else that they’re doing something wrong when all they’re doing is resting.
Everyone gets angry. Once again, actions are what count. I can get mad enough to see red. If all I do is cry my eyes out and scream into a pillow, my “wrath” cannot be considered a sin…or at least it shouldn’t. Being punished for a feeling is wrong, or at least it should be.
All of these “sins” are simply feelings and emotions. Personally, I have a strong belief in the concept of moderation. When we cut these things out of our lives, we cease to have lives. Without lust, we have no romance. Without greed, there is no economy. Without gluttony, there are no more all you can eat Chinese buffets. Without pride, we would lose some of the best minds in science, business and many other fields. Without envy we would lose a lot of our incentives to achieve more than we have now. Without sleep, we die. Without wrath, we wouldn’t have a lot of the really awesome movie plots that we do now. The problem comes in when we take these things too far. Not everyone is a sex addict, gambler, over-eater, arrogant jerk, thief, lazy prick, or spouse abuser. Those people are few and far between. That only happens when they take these things too far, forgetting to practice moderation.