Life has taught me that the less people know about you, the better. This is because not everyone close to you wants to see you succeed. There are people who just wait for the opportune time to strike at you, just like a snake, and then track you closely to see where you fall. They will be there with you when you give birth, not to help you but to snatch the baby. They will grab land that is set aside for public use, even when it carries community projects such as a hospital. They will sell food donated by charity organizations as relief for starving folks. They want to remain on the job upon attaining retirement age even when there are many youngsters looking for employment, some of whom are their sons and daughters. They will kidnap so that they can get ransom or prevent others from achieving their goals.
I, however, now know why this happens. That people have different ways of coping with certain emotions. Some remain calm and composed even when overwhelmed by emotions, while others will allow the emotions to overflow, which leads them to act the way they do, even to commit crime.
And the emotions I am talking about are seven in number. They are called the “Seven Deadly Sins”, or “Capital Vice”, or “Cardinal Sins”. They are greed, lust, envy, pride, gluttony, laziness and wrath. These are normal emotions which everyone experiences in everyday life but to different extents. When experienced in excess they can potentially injure or kill the person and those around him or her.
Greed is an overwhelming desire to have more than you need, of power, wealth, food, sexual gratification or other items. It may be manifested in a greedy person, but it can also be a greedy institution which treats its workers badly so that it can make more money. The greedy want to add to their collection through any possible way, and with no regard to whether their action leads to harm or death of those they collect from.
Lust is a craving for the pleasures of the body. It does not have to be sexual, but it usually is.
Pride is excessive belief in one’s own abilities or accomplishments. Thinking you are better than you are. Thinking that you are better than others, even God. Over-inflating your own worth and ego. You seem to think that you are more important to people than they are. Pride is also known as vanity.
Gluttony is the consumption of more food, drink, a natural resource, charity or wealth than one requires. Until there is nothing left for others, even the needy, and that is when it becomes a sin. Benjamin Franklin called it “sheer defiance of reasonable and balanced behavior”. ‘Too much’, ‘too soon’, ‘too eagerly’, too delicately’, ‘too greedily’. “Too ……” describes a glutton’s insatiable appetite for something.
Laziness is the avoidance of work. Lack of desire to do anything that would require any amount of effort, whether physical, spiritual or even thinking hard. Extreme laziness is called ‘sloth’. People who feel that everything should be done for them and they refuse to do anything for themselves.
Wrath is the uncontrolled hatred for something or someone. The unquenchable desire to exact revenge. Wanting to cause pain, and actually doing it. It is different from anger, which is just a frustration and rebellion at being helpless.
Envy is a feeling of unhappiness, discontentment or resentfulness that is aroused by someone else’s superior quality, achievement, possession or other desirable attribute, status, abilities or situation. An envious person will either desire the attribute or wish that the other lacked it. They will not react happily to the good news of others. In her song and lyrics “Watu Na Viatu”, Nyota Ndogo describes her envious friend who could not react happily when she got a job. They will only pretend, and if the envy becomes extreme, it results in jealousy. An envious person will get mad at you easily for no good reason. An envious person will ignore you when you become unbeatable and when it becomes unbearable to listen to, and to observe, your progress and development. They have low self esteem. They feel threatened. They see you as competition and, therefore, will always oppose your opinion regardless. They will sabotage your good efforts every time they get a chance, and may destroy you. The lesser such people know about you, the better.
But all is not lost. The Seven Deadly sins are contrary to the “Seven Virtues”, namely, prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and charity. We can start by endeavoring to learn and practice these virtues. In his book “The Seven Deadly Sins”, Solomon Schimmel writes: “We must become aware of our glutton and other ills in order to learn to overcome them”.
When all is said and done, handle friends who have excess of the above emotions with utmost care. If they are extremely envious (which means jealous), any small reaction to their envious remarks or action may trigger reactions that may hurt you. Try to avoid wrath-laden people because they are waiting to maim you.
It is better to distance yourself in a peaceful way slowly over time. Ignore them and be gracious. Just keep your dreams, vision, plans and aspirations to yourself until they bear fruits.
But remember not to confuse admiration, envy and jealousy. Admirers like something about you and are inspired by it but they do not wish that you lacked it. They are happy for you, and they work hard to be like you.