“Tell me about sin Big Guy,” said Pavo. He was standing inside the door of his cage following his aerobic flight around the dining room, including a detour through our den.
“Is that a philosophical question my aqua aviator or is there something in your background you wish to get off your pecs?”
“Well, I didn’t get raptured up recently so I must be a sinner. But that’s not what brought up the question. When I stopped to rest near your computer after my morning exercises, I saw a notice for a writing contest, – the seven deadly sins. It looked like you were thinking of entering.”
“I will if I can put some ideas together Pavo. I need to pick one of the seven and pen a thousand word essay. But I’m suffering from writer’s block. I haven’t decided which one to attack.”
“You keep saying that talking is the laxative of the constipated intellect. Maybe describing them will get the creative bowels moving.”
“Okay Pavo. I’ll go alphabetically. Let me start with Anger. It’s a sense of emotion or displeasure excited by injury or insult. Also brought on by disputes involving ownership or competition. Often leads to a loss of objectivity.”
“I understand Big Guy. I’ve seen pictures of lions snarling over a gnu kill or of crocodiles tearing through a boar buffet. And on Nature I’ve seen sharks slashing one another with abandon, battling for food. But anger is such a common emotion, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be very interesting.”
“Okay Pavo. What about Avarice? This is one you won’t see among your animal friends. It’s an excessive desire to grab off everything and keep it for yourself. Greed and miserliness are good examples.”
“I guess you’ve never watched jackals in action. They’ll snatch anything within jaw range. Then they play keep-away with each other. Doesn’t make any difference if it’s a dead antelope, a dozing pit viper or a decaying turkey vulture. They’ll take anything, and it doesn’t make any difference how big or tough the owner is. I’ve known them to rob the king of the jungle of his lunch.”
“Okay. But what do you know about Envy Pavo?”
“Give me a clue.”
“That’s when you’re jealous of someone’s good fortune. You hate his success. You want to destroy him. As resentment boils up inside, you conjure up elaborate schemes to ruin his reputation.”
“Also pretty common among animals. Think of hyenas. They’re especially good at feints, diversions and distractions. And they like to rub it in. If they can’t get at you, they howl about it. But they howl if they can too.”
“The next sin, gluttony, doesn’t apply to you Pavo. You’re a dainty eater, but messy. Gluttons gorge themselves shamelessly on food and drink. The fact that their spillage could be used by those less fortunate never occurs to them. Gluttony is a sin unique to the human species. I’ve watched enough Nature programs on PBS to know that what looks like cruelty in the wild is anything but. Carnivores don’t kill randomly, – only to eat. And they eat only what they need.”
“Another false idea spread on that elitist TV channel. I’d bet you’ve never seen vultures squabbling over a kill. They’ll eat so much they can’t get off the ground. They’re especially good at engorging themselves after killing off sickly newborns and cripples. By the way Big Guy, I don’t like the way Phallix the cat keeps eyeing me.”
‘Sorry Pavo. I do my best to keep him away but at least since his neutering operation he’s no longer a lecher.”
“I’d bet that’s the next sin on the list.”
“Right. That’s a guy who can’t keep his thoughts or hands off members of the opposite sex. It doesn’t even matter if he’s married or committed to someone else. Your animal friends don’t act that way.”
“Hah! Have you ever seen a randy mountain goat? He always has a stable of females surrounding him. And he’s always got his nose where it’s not wanted. Ends up doing a lot of head butting and urinating on his beard. It’s a real macho thing. Females love him for it.”
“That goes along with the next sin, pride. That’s someone with an inflated image of his own importance. Believes the world can’t get by without him. Impressed only by himself. Tends to be uncivil, rude and arrogant. Disdainful of others.”
“Also describes the peacock Big Guy. Behind the loud, flashy colors and gaudy display is a small brain and a limited intellect.”
“In many ways Pavo, that’s the opposite of the last sin, sloth. That’s someone who is slow and dimwitted, lazy or indolent. Usually unable to hold a real job. Slothful folks do nothing significant but often live at the expense of others.”
“From the animal of the same name Big Guy. They’re so slow that algae grows in their fur during the rainy season.”
“That’s all of them Pavo, the seven deadly sins. Did you come up with any ideas?
“Yes. But it might just confuse you by taking you in a different direction. And it’s all because you left some pages from a philosophy book on the bottom of my cage last week”
Pavo, you mean to tell me that you’re now a new age philosopher because of something I left on the bottom of your cage?”
“Not me BG. It’s the philosophy of that guy in white robes. I think his name is Gandhi or something like that.
“I know about Gandhi. What set of sins was he talking about Pavo? Are his different?”
“Seven social sins BG. I think they might be right up your alley. I’ve committed them to memory.”
“And they are . . . ?”.
“Politics without principle, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice. Do you think you can handle those, BG?”
“I’ll get on it right away Pavo.”