Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Seven Deadly Social Sins as shared by Mahatma Gandhi

Indian folk hero Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the Seven Deadly Social Sins, also known as the Seven Blunders of the World, or the Seven Dangers to Human Virtue, or the Seven Things that will Destroy Us, in the Young India newspaper in 1925.

The list is as below:

  • Wealth without work
  • Pleasure without conscience
  • Knowledge without character
  • Commerce without morality / Business without ethics
  • Science without humanity
  • Worship without sacrifice / Religion without sacrifice
  • Politics without principle
Mahatma Gandhi also gave the same list to his fifth grandson Arun Gandhi, who is now an Indian-American socio-political activist.

It is said that Arun later added the eighth into the list, which is:
  • Rights without responsibilities
Dr. Stephen R. Covey (author of the famous book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People) has, in his another book titled Principle Centered Leadership, allocated a chapter to explain about Gandhi's list of seven deadly social sins.

According to Dr. Stephen Covey...

Wealth without work refers to the practice of getting something for nothing - manipulating markets and assets so you don't have to work or produce added value, just manipulate people and things. These include professions built around making wealth without working, making much money without paying taxes, benefiting from free government programs without carrying a fair share of the financial burdens, and enjoying all the perks of citizenship of country and membership of corporation without assuming any of the risk or responsibility.

Pleasure without conscience is a mind-set of immature, greedy, selfish, and sensuous. It is our challenge to learn to give and take, to live selflessly, to be sensitive, and to be considerate. Otherwise there is no sense of social responsibility or accountability in our pleasurable activities.

Knowledge without character is as dangerous as a little knowledge is, even more dangerous is much knowledge without a strong, principled character.

Commerce without morality - Adam Smith wrote in his book Moral Sentiment that, if we ignore the moral foundation and allow economic systems to operate without moral foundation and without continued education, we will soon create an amoral, if not immoral, society and business.

To Adam Smith, every business transaction is a moral challenge to see that both parties come out fairly. Fairness and benevolence in business are the underpinnings of the free enterprise system called capitalism. Our economic system comes out of a constitutional democracy where minority rights are to be attended to as well. The spirit of the Golden Rule or of win-win is a spirit of morality, of mutual benefit, of fairness for all concerned. Paraphrasing one of the mottos of the Rotary Club, "Is it fair and does it serve the interests of all the stakeholders?" That's just a moral sense of stewardship toward all of the stakeholders.

Science without humanity - if there is very little understanding of the higher human purposes that the technology is striving to serve, we becomes victims of our own technocracy.

Worship without sacrifice - there is no real walking with people or going the second mile or trying to deal with our social problems that may eventually undo our economic system. It takes sacrifice to serve the needs of other people - the sacrifice of our own pride and prejudice, among other things.

Politics without principle - You see politicians spending millions of dollars to create an image, even though it is superficial, lacking substance, in order to get votes and gain office. And when it works, it leads to a political system operating independently of the natural laws that should govern.

The key to a healthy society is to get the social will, the value system, aligned with correct principles. You then have the compass needle pointing to true north - true north representing the external or the natural law - and the indicator says that is what we are building our value system on : they are aligned.

But if you get a sick social will behind the political will that is independent of principle, you could have a very sick organization or society with distorted values.


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