An Examination of Sins and Virtues: Sloth

Like a parasitical relationship, sloth latches on

There’s a certain level of relief that comes from putting aside anything that generates stress; to sit back, relax, and watch the hours wane away as you curl up in your favorite recliner, isolated from a world packed with things that you don’t want to do. Relieving yourself from tedious tasks sounds enjoyable, and even rather satisfying. However, it is in fact a sin, called sloth, and can be the supplier of ill-happenings to come. This sin isn’t simply a “bad thing,” but rather, something that harms your relationship with God––sloth is often called a “gateway to all other sins.”

The reluctance to work or make an effort is a widespread phenomenon, one that is frequently present in the classroom, and also seen across the globe. Although common, sloth can come in many different forms. From the negligence to complete a chore, to blowing-off an entire school project, sloth is all-around, and it has engulfed many people at drastically different levels.

Sloth is commonly thought of to simply be laziness, but there is more to it than that; sloth can be more formally known as a reaction to sorrow, or rather an existential complication. It should be thought of not as a simple act of neglect, but rather a prolonged and continuous problem that must be resolved.

The immediate pleasure of disregarding something quickly wears off, and an incomplete task remains. The unfinished work must still be completed, so why not just do it in the first place? “Work is a good thing for man––a good thing for his humanity––,” wrote Pope John Paul II in his 1981 encyclical letter on human work, “because through work man not only transforms nature, but also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being’.”

The outlook of the Pope tells that work gives us a sense of completeness in our everyday lives. The genuine satisfaction that results from hard work is incomparably better than any satisfaction felt from neglecting to do something.

However, sloth is not simply the complete negligence to do anything, it can be much more complicated. For example, if a man dreads having to further his relationship with God in the form of prayer or studying the gospel, he might bury himself in other things: writing, reading, spending time with family, etc. Now, although the man may be investing a lot of time into seemingly positive activities, he is, in fact, pushing himself further from his spiritual life. This man is clearly not lazy, but he is slothful––by doing things that he would rather do than invest spiritually, he is fully putting aside what should be done.

Challenges like these present themselves each day. In order for one to succeed, more time and effort may be required. With the school year drawing nearer to end, many students have trouble staying motivated throughout the last few months. The infamous ‘senior slide’ settles into the mind of many senior students, and it seems as if choosing not to do homework can be beneficial.

The bulk of the work in high school has been completed, the senior term paper is out of the way, and all that is left are sunny days and a new start in college… and, oh yes, three more months of school. “I see in a lot of peers that the lack of effort is definitely prevalent,” said senior Matthew Ganter. “Half of the people are already in college, so they don’t really have to be working for a transcript anymore, and a general lack of effort makes sense when their mindset is ‘It doesn’t matter that much.’” Seeing the ill effects of sloth firsthand, Ganter hopes to remain motivated and to cap off his senior year on a high note. “I think that it is definitely bad to be super lazy toward the end of the year.”

It’s not easy for students and others alike to avoid sloth altogether, but there’s a simple solution to avert from this sin: be motivated and challenge yourself. There have been billions of people who have walked this earth, but only a smattering of names are remembered today. These few people didn’t back down in the face of a challenge, nor did they sit back and wait for opportunity and greatness to present itself. The greatest men and women have been ludicrously motivated, and as a result, achieved incredible things.

Never will a slothful person come upon great success; only those who work indomitably reach their goals.

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About Kenny Kiratli

Kenny Kiratli ('17) attends Northwestern University.

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