I sat quietly in my Composition class (What other class could inspire me enough to actually publicly right random thoughts?) as we discussed some tripe essay concerning conservative values and yadda yadda; the usual issues in politics that always seemed to me that they should be handled by sociologists rather than politicians. My professsor in his attempts to prod us awake and realize the writer’s inability to write, asked us what the accepted virtues in Catholicism are. My catholic teachings disappeared immediately after CCD, so I sat back waiting for virtues to start pouring out of my more informed classmates when I heard patience as a virtue.
I chuckled. For a second I didn’t know why, as I would like to think of myself as a patient person. (At least when it matters.) But then I remembered my years of watching Full Metal Alchemist and found that Sloth was one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
These are supposed to be (and I guess are) two very different concepts. As I understand these terms in a general, popular use sense, sloth is not doing anything, or at least not doing anything worthwhile, and patience is the ability to calmly wait while doing something or waiting to do something worthwhile.
I don’t believe doing nothing is a good idea (let alone a virtue) but what do people do that is worthless? Even sitting down in front of the TV (an activity that seems to accompany the word sloth in modern day use) we get something, whether it’s a PS3 trophy or thought provoking ideas and reflections that a good television show (like Fullmetal Alchemist) can induce. How are these worthless? They bolster are self-esteem and help us create new things for ourselves and others to enjoy and enrich life which continues to perputate the experience again and again for thousands of others.
What do we do while being patient? Grab a snack from the cupboard while the video game loads, or when the commercials are on. Or, to illustrate my point with a situation where patience is asked for, what do we do when holding for customer service? Or in the doctor’s waiting room? I usually end up staring at the “hang in there poster” on the wall or wasting a dollar and 200 calories on a Twix. What you are being patient for could happen at anytime by that point. And doing something thats worthwhile takes time, time being patient doesn’t allow you to have, right?
So, if this is how modern society (or at least I) understand the terms, wouldn’t sloth be the virtue and patience the sin? Yet still I watch an entire game of football with my family on Thanksgiving weekend that gives me an uplifting attitude and an idea for the topic of my new Comp 200 essay and feel terrible about that same essay I could have started patiently writing instead of watching TV; in which I would have forced myself to massage each paragraph into a worthwhile read on some topic I dug up from my past.
This whole thing of mine could just be a matter of semantics, though. God I hate semantics. Nothing more worthless in the world than arguing semantics.