Seven Dangers to Human Virtue

With the initiation of my new endeavor, I am spending some time thinking about what constitutes stewardship. While I was researching the subject, I ran across Ghandi’s seven dangers to human virtue. As I pondered the list, I thought it might be worth sharing my thoughts.

These seven dangers have been called many things, but it seems evident that they are worth discussing. Ghandi published them in 1925 as a part of his newspaper, Young India. According to Ghandi, “the list represents seven ways of living that are bound to undermine your well-being and the well-being of those around you. This reminds me of Proverbs 11:10, “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices.”

Amy Sherman in her book, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, uses the term Tsaddiqim to illustrate what the righteous do. “The righteous act in concert with God’s will for the shalom of the community. The activity of the righteous shows they align themselves with God’s desire to create community well-being, and their activity is part of God’s creative, justice-establishing efforts.” The phrase used to describe this is social righteousness. I really like that phrase.

The first danger is wealth without work. Work is a critical part of our psyche. If we are given things, it leads to a sense of entitlement. And if we are trust-fund babies it is even worse. I am thinking about the young man who claimed that he did really horrible things because of affluenza. In other words, he was given everything and therefore knew no limits. A weak argument, but still if we have wealth without earning it, our humanity suffers.

The second danger is pleasure without conscience. When we start removing consequences to our actions there is a human cost. All around us we see people getting away with it. As Jeremiah 6:15 states, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush.”

The third danger involves knowledge without character. I have worked with some very smart people, but some of them were really horrible individuals. They lacked the character needed for people to listen to them. Knowledge without wisdom is a tragedy.

The fourth danger is commerce without morality. When it comes to stewardship all of the above is critical, but none more so than this. Profit without sharing, consumption without thought, and wealth without community leads to a loss of morality, a loss of humanity.

The fifth danger is science without humanity. I think the atom bomb is a great example of this. Another example is a medical doctor that may go into medicine to help people but loses the dream when they focus more on money then on care.

The sixth danger is worship without sacrifice. This seems particularly egregious. And if we add the words of Jesus in Matthew 9:13, “But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” we get the true sense of the issue.

The seventh and last, at least according to Ghandi, is politics without principle. I do think I could write a whole blog on this one principle alone. It appears that reason and compromise has been replaced with political maneuvering. Thus, nothing gets done.

These seven dangers illustrate both what could be and what shouldn’t be. There is a great scene during the new Jumanji movie where Spencer is questioning whether he could do what was needed. He states that he only has one life left. The Fridge tells him that all we ever have is one life. That was a very profound statement, even if it was made by Kevin Hart. It seems that Ghandi and Jesus are both telling us to make the most of our lives.

I end with a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5, “This life, which had been the tomb of his virtue and of his honor, is but a walking shadow: a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is the tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

We can be an idiot, or we can be the righteous. We can choose to do good with our lives, or we can choose the other. What is your choice?

And that is my thought for the day!

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