Sin was the topic of the week and I wrote this article a while back in November 2010 keeping the Bangladeshi society as a background. I am really grateful and proud of the illustrations by Ehsanur Raza Ronny, my dear friend and fellow compatriot. They really make the sins more enjoyable.
The Sins of Men
Corrigendum to the Title: The Sins of Men and Women. Why should the females be left out? See I am a feminist. I do not discriminate. The seven sins as postulated by Dante of mortal beings are ever present with their omnipotence in the daily conundrums of our fascinating and dramatic lives; be it outpouring innocent love for that hot sexy chick flapping her wings or grudging ambition peeping out towards that overly stout and egoistical boss taking bribes at every whim, every act of compliance or defiance that we respond with, the seven sins are always there nibbling away at the edges.
Aristotle in defining virtue ethics had mentioned, I hope with modesty, that excess or too little of any emotion or characteristic is the sign of a mad man. I do realize that in order to catch the attention of maybe a special someone (after all, hormones are a powerful stimuli) we often like to term ourselves as mad or unique, but in terms of virtue ethics, having a balanced character really is important. Dante on similar grounds had defined the excess or lack of seven virtues as the seven deadly sins that drives a mad man, erm, madder. That mentioned and hopefully regarded with obedience by the audience, let us take the seven sins into consideration in conjunction with our own divine comical modern society.
Envy is contagious in our ever-so pretentious Bengali society. Our back-biting nature is a product due to the mating of envy with our non-stop blabbering and bickering (that we have developed out of sloth – further opinions of sloth expressed under appropriate section). How so? You feel discontent when you see that ugly man holding (maybe) your beautiful lady around his waists laughing away while you are stuck with an unsightly who scorns your every step; you feel discontent when you see that “perfect” gentleman, hair dripping in oil, head off to Stanford University with lower grades than yours just because his parents can pay; or maybe you feel discontent when you see that women being admired by your man who is supposedly holding your hand but hasn’t even noticed that you cut your hair from waist to shoulders length. When you feel discontent, you brood. When you brood, you breed envy. That envy seeps further into society when you scream and shout and bicker and quibble to others, and they do the same. You find comfort in biting other’s backs. Envy has been released.
Ahhh sloth; the lazy lethargic sluggish lifestyle that instills its venom from the early stages of childhood. The two sections of our massive community that are widely and perversely affected by this are much of the government officials and the students. The incentive for sloth in the officials, as widely acknowledged, is poor payments or rewards and a lack of monitoring. Who cares if the clerk comes to office at noon, chewing on betel leaves with red saliva drooling down his cheek and dripping on that tax return file that will soon be lost in the depths of the maze of paperwork that remains un-catalogued. Who cares if the doctor comes late to office and leaves early as long as the patients are asked to come in the afternoon to the private practices instead. Who cares about the crappy bureaucratic system where you need to get a dozen signatures from people who rarely come to office just to get a working computer in the accounts office. Nobody does. The governments certainly don’t and hence they remain in their mistakes. A lack of proactive endeavors and sloth is a happy man.
Students on the other stream are the next most inflicted by this disease. Readings seem to scare them into their closet and the sound of writing papers seem to inflict them with such brutal pain that they even lose their sanity of coming up with good and intelligent excuses. While when it comes to student politics, many of the student bodies are excessively active, when it comes to actual academic matters their very souls seem to get drained out by the soul reaper. Laziness is a prime initiator of this and accordingly we are seriously lagging behind in education and research than other countries. Sadly, physical labor seems to be more preferred by the student lot than exercise of the brain. The teachers and professors also have their role in this and if this country is finally to get up from its dilapidated armchair and take a step forward, this culture of sloth has to be removed and replaced.
Gluttony is silently manifested in our society, especially in our booming capital of Dhaka. Baton Rouge, Bittersweet Café, Mainland China, Flambe, Spitfire; you name it – our endorsement of our tummy’s craving toppled with an excuse of socializing is one of the biggest industries in our land. The West bows down to the East’s flurry of culinary skills and Dhaka is not far behind. But many of us take this to another level. With drenching saliva outpouring, we tend to over-indulge our tummies in expensive and extravagant delicacies that we also happen to often waste while our next door street neighbors loiter with little to indulge in. Who doesn’t like that triple layered chocolate fudge mud cake or that mango cheesecake melting on our tongues? But while we do so, let us also think about those who can barely munch on dry breads. Inequality and discrimination is eminent but such without sympathetic acknowledgement is a heavier sin.
Pride is that narcissistic know-it-all possibly egoistical fellow who probably has a picture of himself printed on every underwear he wears and thinks can get away with any action due to excessive outpouring confidence in his achievements. Excessive pride is often the root of many bad boys, if not all bad boys. Being markedly proud also often ends in isolating yourself from the rest of the so called “common” crowd and you end up friend-less which is never a positive sign. It is good to be self-acknowledged but rejecting varying personalities is often a disease of pride. Proud people are often very conservative – a trap one must stay away from in this globalized world.
Pride is also often pathological and can lead to a division in unity. The pride of nationalism is the reason why wars started in this world in the first place. Nietzsche, on the other hand considered pride to be a part of the master set of morals as it acknowledged the good and the noble rejecting the weak and the insipid. As well all know however, Nietzsche had his own set of quirks. Sadly, this pride in our society is often manifested in selective rich families who prevent their children from mixing with people – people of different backgrounds and classes. This gives them the stupid notion of being better than the others, and some even move to lose much of the humanitarian qualities. If you think you are an excessively proud person, humiliate yourself and learn some humility. Mix with people and learn to understand others situation and sentiments. Be diverse; it is a virtue that never fails.
Oohh lust! Lust is that which floods your hormonal system with hormones (like duh!) and makes you all oogly-woogly with big eyes crumbling over those curves on her lower back or where you prefer them to be. Lust is when a flick of her tongue over her luscious lips makes you go “Oohh-lala!” as blood starts gushing into the right places. Lust is also what powers an entire industry of porn, sex workers and more often than not, “kaji” offices having to settle divorce papers. It’s normal human instinct which if you let go unchecked can more or less ruin your smooth days for a little bit of scrumptious pleasure.
Lust is also often exploited by the female species very lucratively. Wear that low necked tank top with revealing cleavage, a mini skirt to show the slender legs and a little bit of Lacoste’s ‘Touch of Pink” perfume, and they have men jumping from roofs for them. This gives them an edge in the convincing potential over man. A grave disadvantage – but hey, what to say, the men like it!
Be it murder for maddening theocratic beliefs or stealing votes for winning hearts of people in paper, greed can be a vicious instigator often reflected in aristocratic families who will slice up their daughters for reputation, lawyers who will let murderers commit more murders for money and politicians who will make countless fake promises for power. This world fuels greed and runs on greed. Greed for power, greed for love, greed for public victory – you name it and if you think a little hard, you are definitely greedy one way or another. Even the Buddhists were greedy for spiritual power. In other words, greed is not always bad. But remember that case a few years ago in the forestry department where the police found an official’s pillow to be filled with money notes – that is the type of greed that is bad. I really don’t have to elaborate much on this matter. I am sure we are all a greedy bunch; just be on the safe side of it.
See that dog barking towards that cat. Let me tell you the story. Just like how males dominate over females in much of our rural society, dogs used to exploit and discriminate over cats. One day, the feline cats found out their potential of being sexy and sleek at the same time. They learned to purr and slither their seductive body around the muscles of the dogs. The dogs were taken aback and one by one they became victims to the cats’ new found powers. Eventually, a new system of slavery was enacted. Before it was the blacks for the whites, now it was the dogs for the cats. Since then the dogs wrath against the cats infuriated to such extent that whenever they see cats, they can never stop barking. End of story. Period.
Coming back to the point, wrath is never good. It makes you lose your temperance, your ability to think properly and you end up saying or doing things that you regret later. Remember that last fight you had with your girlfriend? Remember how she left you? Remember how you cried later? Yeah, wrath is never good. Then again, there are those who use wrath as a means of self-protection. They should seriously get some anger management worked up. I think everyone should have a screaming wall. Select an empty wall in your room, put up a picture of someone/something you abhor (say Britney Spears). When you lose it, go up to the wall and scream all you want. Then go back and call your girlfriend. You will find that your love troubles are over. Control your anger, get a life.