Tuesday 11th October
Isn’t Sloth a wonderful word, not only is it almost onomatopoeic, (especially when spoken slowly) but it has a wonderful old-world and of course biblical feel to it. And it has rather fallen out of common usage, I mean, who uses the word at all today? But it expresses more than just idleness or laziness, slothfulness is in a whole other dimension. And even that last word slothfulness is simply overwrought and unnecessary. Just plain old sloth will do, and says it all. It is that hopeless state of inactivity and pathetic uselessness that is not just the result of a moments’ depression, but is a state of being, almost a lifestyle choice.
It is the first song in Seven Deadly sins by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, and the sin (encapsulated by their lazy ne’er do well family) which the twin sisters Anna escape from in their journey across America. If you ask most people what they would consider to be the seven worst sins I doubt very much if sloth, or even idleness, would feature in their answer. I wonder how many people would actually understand the concept of sins; crimes, character failings or errors of judgement they would be happy to embrace, but the concept of a sin is a bit harder to pin down in these irreligious days. It is far more about how you judge yourself than how you are judged by others; a sort of inner reckoning, or even a matter of conscience.
But let us get back to sloth itself, the reason it is a deadly sin is that it is so debilitating and such a waste of an individual’s potential. It brings to mind the couch-potato who is unemployed and sits and wastes his life watching dvds or cartoons all day. But I believe it describes far more of us than that, those who settle for the easy option every time, who never push themselves, who have no idea of their own potential let alone attempt to achieve it. I know that we cannot all be successful, but it is not about material success so much as a feeling that you have actually done something with your life. We live in a society where people just expect to have everything laid on for them; spoilt as children, where whatever they want is given to them they rarely have to struggle, everything comes to them without really trying and they settle down to a life of easy contentment. Theirs is also a form of sloth, of just going along with it all, never questioning the world, or their part in it. And now with the internet available to almost everyone there really is no excuse. There is a whole world out there to discover, whatever age you are. Personally, I feel I still have lots to achieve, some days I feel I have only just started.
So to all of you out there who are tempted to settle for a life of easy choices, don’t become a slave to sloth, get off your bottoms, and try something different, learn a foreign language or maybe try an open university course, or become a part-time volunteer, or even try writing a book. If I could do it, so could anyone.