Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Seven Deadly Sins - Sloth

Diligence overcomes difficulties, sloth makes them. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Sloth. Just the sound of the word Sloth feels like a slug.

As opposed to my first post in this "series", I can say that Sloth is one of the deadly sins that I'm not overly familiar with. This surely comes from my "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" and "get with it!" upbringing. I'm just not slothful. I wake up early. I work hard. I generally do my best to make the most of what's at hand. I'm not easily discouraged, and I can't tolerate slothfulness in people.
In the eternal debate over nature or nuture, I wonder why I am the way I am, and what makes a person become a slothful slug. (Sorry to any of you who covet this particular sin. It's so very hard for me to comtemplate!) Sloth is not laziness, per se. Sloth is more akin to apathy, to indifference. This definition from Wikipedia, part of which I have quoted below, strikes me as being on target:

The meaning of Sloth as a vice closely follows the meaning of the Greek word akedia: "absence of caring"

If sloth is basically indifference and lack of desire for making the most of one's God given talents and attributes, then what on earth is this?

This is Naples, Italy. The same city famous for the ruins of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius, just around the corner from the world famous Amalfi Coast, heralded as one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

The people of Naples have been forced to dump their garbage on the street, and no one is picking it up. The reasons for this particular crisis are surely complex and far reaching, but I see this especially pungent situation as a symbol of Italy's widespread Sloth. And believe me, no one is taking responsibility. If a deadly sin could be applied to an entire country, this is the country of Sloth.

Italy is by far one of the most geographically, historically, artistically and spiritually gifted places in the world, and the carelessness with which these resources are managed, or not managed at all, makes my "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" skin crawl! My years in Italy have at best taught me patience (One the seven virtues in which I am sorely lacking! I will surely post about that one...), and at worst made me want to give every single person around me a violent shoulder shake.

Dante's punishment for the slothful was to make them run forever.

Well, that may be a bit much.

Maybe it would do to clean up the garbage in Naples.


Jennifer said...

Once again another post I wish I'd written.

Brillig said...

Perfect! I'm enjoying your 7 deadly sins series SO much! And realizing that so far I'm guilty of all of them... though at least my house doesn't look quite as bad as that roadside in Naples!

Rebecca said...

Well I'm glad that according to the 'real' meaning I am not guilty of sloth. I am not indifferent, or apathetic - though I will let me house get quite messy!!

But the sight of that garbage on the side of the road in Naples is really quite tragic.

eLĂ­ said...

Please tell me you're not the only person in the neighborhood who feels this way? For goodness sake, that crap is disgusting...and I have a scary feeling that isn't the half of it either.

jennifer said...

Thank you jennifer.
Brillig- my house is messy, too. But its not DIRTY. There's a diiference, I think.
Rebecca- yes, it's very tragic
Eli- thanks for visiting. Luckily I don't live anywhere near Naples, but the problem here in northern Italy where I live is that they tend to think of southern Italy as a different country, which I think is wrong. I mean, if you live in New York, and see the people of New Orleans getting washed away by a hurricane, don't you feel like it has something to do with you, too?
Obviously the situation is much more complicated than my simple metaphors, but I still find it infuriating.