Character Development, Part I

Young, happy lovers or a pair of scoundrels cheating on their spouses? Tsk tsk.

Young, happy lovers or a pair of scoundrels cheating on their spouses? Tsk tsk.

What is a person?

Depending on genre, place and time, this question has very different answers. So to simplify it, I’m going to focus on one thing.


When I watch humans, I’m frequently amused by the contradictory nature of our interactions. I’ve long since learned the tact of not directly mentioning most of these observations to people (psycho-analyzing anyone is a fast way to earn their animosity.) But that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to it. And what I notice is this:

We’re all sinners.

Damage control time. I say this with separation of sin from any religious aspect. But I have to admit that if there was anyone who was interested in human psychology long before Sigmund Freud, it would have been the priest caste- irrespective of the actual religion.

Of course, priests tied the human mind into larger questions of metaphysics, of which I am in no scholarly position to speak. To that end, they were paying attention to human activity and trying to come up labels for actions and behavior. Religion wasn’t without reason. What that reason was/is and whether it was/is “good” or “bad” is way, way beyond the scope of a less-than-humble blog post. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about religion itself.

But I know a little something about sin.

Pretty much since Se7en, we all know a little something about the seven deadly sins. As a refresher they are, in no particular order: sloth, wrath, envy, greed, pride, lust and gluttony.

When you watch as few as two people judge one another, one gets a sense of different values almost instantly. For example, a man flirting with someone’s wife could be lustful in the eyes of the husband, while the wife might believe her husband is merely envious. Meanwhile, a man who borrows incessantly from his brother maybe viewed as slothful, even though this man may view his brother’s constant struggle for money as greedy.

Pick any two sins and somewhere in there, you’ll find a breaking point. The point at which the values of one person cause strife with another.

But of course, we’re never one dimensional sinners. I’ve met people who hid their sloth behind pride, who refused to get a low level job because they believed themselves too good to do something. It’s cliche how often envy turns to wrath when the suspicious husband finds out that the wife was actually cheating on him. And greed and gluttony can go hand in hand when a person needs security and comfort.

But of course, all these suggestions reflect my own prejudice values.

So we’re all sinners. Oh well.

2 responses to “Character Development, Part I

  1. Indeed, personal moralistic values are dependant upon the individual’s perceptions. I always think the best sort of ‘moral code’ is one which is in many ways negotiated between people, with a general attempt to minimise suffering for people overall.

    But yeah everyone is a sinner, because everything can be interpreted as ‘sin’. And none of the seven deadly sins are in fact deadly. It is the relative extremity of such actions/feelings/emotions that cause the msot damage. Lust taken to the hideous extreme would be a terrible thing to behold, but flirting? Sexual attraction? These are ESSENTIAL to existence.

    Moderation is the key to being ‘good’ (another amorphous term, but I think good should be considered as ‘the least harmful course of action for those around you and yourself’. But it doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘good’ so meh… )

    Show me a completely sinlessperson, who does nothing anyone could consider sinful, and I will show you the most boring being ever to be called a human…

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