Sloth doesn’t care. It’s not just about an occasional laziness. Sloth isn’t the relaxation we all need when we kick back, and do nothing. In most cases, this slowing down is necessary for a balanced professional life. Don’t mistake sloth for relaxation.
Spiritually, we can handle sloth in our own lives by giving in to passivity for a short time. Slow down, relax, take a deep breath. If we feel re-energized at the end of a few days, we know it’s not been sloth, it’s been the need to regroup. If the feeling continues, then we may have turn to our creative side to move us forward.
In its gentler side (and sloth may be one of the few sins that has a less dangerous side), it refuses to cooperate, collaborate, or contribute. It sits back and lets everyone else do all the work. On the surface, this might seem useless, but not necessarily dangerous. But all the Seven Deadly Sins are deadly. What does sloth do, since it doesn’t seem to do much?
Sloth tempts us to give up. It pulls us back and convinces us that our contributions are unnecessary and unimportant. That it’s going to be far too difficult to try, so don’t bother.
The world around us colludes with sloth. No matter what our profession, we continually come across those who don’t care and we buy into their judgment. One of my friends once explained to me how she sees sloth operating in the corporate world. She said some of her colleagues learned to do just enough to get by without getting fired.
Sometimes we give our power over to the opinions of others, put down the pen and throw in the towel. In doing so, the important work we want to do never happens. Evil prevails and good dies out. Much of the goodness in the world halts, not because of the active evil that is being done, but the passive evil that occurs because of those who do nothing.
If we believe the world moves forward by good works, then the sabotage of sloth is clear, because it forces us to go backward. We can see it socially. The electrical grids that was supposed to be taken care of, wasn’t. And a blackout affected millions. The road that was supposed to be fixed wasn’t, and people were killed. The information that was supposed to be shared prior to 9/11 wasn’t, and the repercussions were enormous. Sloth ignores warnings. It doesn’t take anything seriously, and the results can be tragic.
Sloth collaborates with the other sins, allowing them to have power over us.
Pride takes over. Lust has its way, since it doesn’t matter who you sleep with and it’s easier to give in than to say “no”. The righteous anger of others has no effect on sloth.
Sloth tempts us to stop.
No matter what our profession, most work is collaborative. This is particularly true in the film & publishing industries – the two worlds which I know the best. The work of the writer is not a solitary job. Not is most work. We are dependent on each other – and if someone is non-responsive, nothing gets done. We expect other members of our team to do their work. Sloth makes promises. It just doesn’t keep them. Sloth can destroy a project that may have taken years to come to fruition.
Sloth is not a straight shooter. It’s dishonest.
Many passive-aggressive people are good friends with sloth. They promise they’ll meet deadlines, but they don’t. They take days off without telling others they won’t be around, and then make a whole new set of promises which are never kept.
I used to think that Sloth was the only deadly sin that didn’t have power over me.
I was an achiever who got things gone. But Sloth has almost done me in, not because of my sloth, but because I didn’t recognize it in others. As an achiever, who wanted to do things, resolve problems, and be responsive to others, the non-responsiveness of Sloth drove me nuts. I couldn’t let it go, and was determined to make Sloth respond. But Sloth is stubborn. It’s perfectly fine, sitting on its perch, often in its depressed state, doing nothing.
I’ve found it best to recognize sloth as quickly as possible, dis-engage, and go somewhere else. I try to recognize sloth by giving colleagues three tries. The first time a colleague fails to keep a promise, I consider it a mistake, and give the person a second opportunity. If something goes wrong the second time, my red flag goes up and I suspect a pattern. I talk to the person and give them an opportunity to make it up to me. The third time tells me it’s a pattern and it’s time to disengage. I used to give 8 or 10 or 18 opportunities but their sloth riled me up and used up time and energy. I’ve discovered patterns tend to be clear with three times.
Whereas most of the Seven Deadly Sins are hurtful, the sloth of others diminishes our work, or can even bring it to a complete halt. It is a saboteur, because it has no responsiveness or sensitivity to the hard work of others.
Because sloth is sly, we’re often not warned we’re getting into a relationship with it.
We might think we’re working with a relaxed and easy-going guy who we expect will do his share and just be fun to work with. Everything on the surface might look just fine. Instead, we find all of our efforts have been erased, by sloth doing nothing.