7 Dangers to Human Virtue

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Seven Social Sins or Dangers to human Virtue is a list that was first published by Mahatma Gandhi in his weekly newspaper Young India on October 22, 1925. Later he gave the same list to his grandson Arun Gandhi written on a piece of paper on their final day together shortly before his assassination. Gandhi also wrote that he does not want readers to know these things merely through the intellect  but to know them through the heart so as to avoid them. The seven sins are:

1. Wealth without work

To some it may look like ultimate success but actually it is one of the most deadly sins. This may include gambling, stock market playing, manipulating people or markets. There are many networking marketing systems that involve making a pyramidal structure under one and getting big amounts in commissions as others work. These may sound great financial strategies but most often the underlying emotion is greed. That’s why such people are never satisfied and remain trapped in the viscous cycle of materialistic pleasures. When the basic requirement of working to earn your bread is not there, what will one do with his or her free time. Everybody knows that an empty mind is the devil’s workshop. Soon the person will be engulfed in other sinful activities.

2. Pleasure without conscience

I ….. me ……. myself …… This seems to be the guiding policy for some. They neglect their families just to enjoy themselves. Naturally the more we acquire, the more we desire and complicate our life with more anxiety, insecurity and irritations. Food for thought here is whether independence is so desirable. Isn’t it true that we are social beings and to remain interdependent and having social responsibility is our biggest asset? Satisfaction is not in possessing but in sharing and being sensitive and considerate.

3. Knowledge without character

Character is the Crown and Glory of life. Knowledge is important but Character is even more so. Knowledge without a strong character is dangerous. Don’t we have many examples of people in history who were very knowledgeable but because of their character they were never revered. Take the example of Ravana in Hindu mythology; he was very knowledgeable but because of his ego and false pride, ultimate misery was brought to his people. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our scientific power has run out our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” We have reached moon but are so far away from our own families. How many of us know that Mahatma Gandhi though he himself was a barrister didn’t sent his children to English school rather emphasized that they remain with him in ashram and at that school of experience learn the simplicity and the spirit of service.

4. Business without ethics

Contrary to what some may think, a business which is not deeply attached to it’s values does not succeed. Steven Covey in his book, ‘Seven habits of highly effective people’ emphasized on the habit of win-win. This golden rule of win-win is a spirit of morality, fairness, trust and mutual benefits. Wealth and power may be a big agenda for few but this must be understood that all businesses are ultimately based on moral foundations. Some businesses may short-change their customers or other business associates, and with this lack of business ethics endanger the future of the company.

5. Science without humanity

When science is used to discover more and more destructive weapons that even threaten to wipe out the whole mankind, it is a prime example of science without humanity. Science was developed to assist the humans and today just look around you, aren’t we all becoming slaves of technology? We must act and live as human beings and not as animals. We must act with moral compass, without greed, anger or vengeance. We have allowed the science to control our bodies. Medical science today is a boon but only at the hand of a well meaning doctor, a doctor who is greedy may misuse his scientific knowledge in advising you something which you may not even require at the first place. We need to remember that science itself has no humanity, it is an automated process and will work equally for a soldier or a terrorist, a Roosevelt or a Hitler.

6. Religion without sacrifice

Worship means reverence and respect paid to God. Worship therefore means loving and serving all creatures. Worship includes sacrifice at its very core which means selfless service to mankind. As an old saying goes ,“One person’s faith is another person’s fantasy.” We see so many examples of people fighting in the name of religion, whereas true religion is based on spirituality, love, compassion and understanding. True worship demands sacrifice that how we translate our beliefs into practice and our life styles. As Mahatma Gandhi once, on being asked about Christianity replied, “From what I have read it is an admirable religion, however I do not see any white people practicing it.”

7. Politics without principle

Regarding politics without principle Mahatma Gandhi said having politics without truth to justify, dictate the action creates chaos, which ultimately leads to violence. The healthy society will have a social will, a value system which is aligned with correct principles. But if you get a corrupt thinking politics without principles you get a sick society with distorted values. Politics is not meant for the fulfillment of the selfish aims and greed, but its sole purpose is selfless service. We must understand that we do not remain on earth forever and whatever we have with us is given only for short duration.We are supposed to make the best use of it for humanity. Through politics, huge changes could be brought about in the world.

Being a person of character and virtue is not easy, but ultimately being a good human being benefits everyone. The above list represents seven ways of living that is as relevant today as it was in 1925, if not more.

“As Human beings our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.”Mahatma Gandhi

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