The Worst Sin of All
by Bob Wallace
Satan is the worst character in the Bible, and for the best reason of all: he exhibits the one trait that is the basis of all crime. Hubris. In fact, hubris is itself a crime, although nearly everyone has forgotten this fact. The Bible calls hubris "pride," but the word the Greeks used " hubris " is a far better term.
Hubris is a grandiose self-conception that reduces other people to things. Being things, they have no rights; they can be trampled on without guilt. Out of the Seven Deadly Sins " Pride, Avarice/Greed, Envy, Wrath/Anger, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth " the first five involve devaluing the other person into a thing. The reason the last two don't involve devaluing others is because they aren't directed at them; they're directed toward the self.
A more modern term for hubris is narcissism, from the Greek myth about Narcissus, who stared at his reflection in a pool until he wasted away and died. Whatever term is used, all mean the same thing: I am self-absorbed, self-centered, grandiose and god-like, and you are nothing. I am good, and you are bad. The most extreme form of a narcissist is a psychopath, who has no conscience, no guilt, and sees everyone as a thing. When serial killers (who are psychopaths) are interviewed about killing and mutilating people, they answer, " It's like working on a doll." A doll is a thing, not a human.
The hubristic say: since I am good, I will project all problems onto you, the bad. This projection is where the term "scapegoating" comes from. I will project all problems onto you, and then make you into a scapegoat and outcast.
This scapegoating is what the Nazis and Socialists did to those they didn't like. They turned them into smoke and ashes. The psychiatrist M. Scott Peck very correctly called scapegoating "the genesis of human evil." It's why in one of the very first stories in the Bible Adam and Eve get kicked out of the Garden of Eden, bringing evil into the world: because they deny responsibility for their actions and blame others. "You made me do it...I'm not the one with the problem...you are."
Unfortunately, those who are afflicted with hubris revel in it. That's why hubris leads to nemesis. Sufferers, believing they are invincible, don't think they can be stopped. But they always are.
Every instance of hubris in fiction and life ends with nemesis, destruction. In real life, the Roman emperors Caligula (who declared himself a god) and Commodus (who ended up poisoned, then strangled, to make sure the job was done). In the 20th century, Hitler, who shot himself in a bunker as the enemy closed in on him.
In fiction, Shakespeare's Richard III. In cartoons, the Brain, of " Pinky and the Brain. " In popular fiction, any of James Bond's villains, such as Goldfinger and Dr. No. All are afflicted with hubris; all suffer the downfall of nemesis.
James Q. Wilson, in his " Crime and Human Nature, " pointed out the average prisoner has an IQ of 93 and is much more narcissistic than a non-prisoner. This observation makes sense. Such prisoners are so stupid, and so grandiose, that it never occurs to them that sitting in a car and pointing a .22 caliber pistol through bullet-proof glass at a bank teller isn't going to work.
The system catches the stupid and the narcissistic. The smart and the narcissistic usually avoid getting caught. Sometimes they go into politics. Maybe, oftentimes.
Let's take the case of the average politician. How many suffer from pride - hubris? That they think they have the God-given right to tell everyone what to do by force of law? How many suffer from avarice, or greed, and fill their pockets with taxpayer money? How many have problems with drinking, drugs and sex - lust and gluttony? How many are so slothful they would never go near a real job? How many are wrathful and envious?
Most politicians are afflicted with all of the Seven Deadly Sins. How many ever level any criticism at themselves? Obviously, most believe, " I don't have a problem...you do."
Gambling, food, alcohol, sex. That just about sums up the average politician. I'd sure like to see the bookmarks on many politician's computers. The ones to which only they have the passwords.
I drove a taxi for five years when I was in college. I became friends with all kinds of people, including lots of criminals. I got to know them quite well, which is why I know people like William Bennett, Jesse Jackson, Charles Schumer, and both the Clintons are grifters and scam artists. They don't know what they are, because their hubris blinds them. There should be an 11th Commandment in the Bible: "Thou shalt not lie to thine own self."
Some of the people I knew were gamblers and ex-cons. Some were whores and heroin addicts. One woman was both a whore and a heroin addict. Sometimes we would go to dinner together.
Joann didn't want to be a heroin addict. She didn't want to be a whore, either, but it paid for her habit. She used to ask me to drive her to customers and be a bodyguard, since she was always scared. I wore boots with thick heels, a big bulky coat and a hat. In outline I was six-four. Four inches of it was all bluff.
Right before she went into a 30-day treatment program for her addiction, she told me, "You know, you've never treated me any different than anyone else you know. I replied, "Who's worse? You, or George P.? You want to change, and he doesn't." This made her laugh. When she got out of treatment, she always carried her Bible with her. "It helps me stay off the junk," she told me.
P. was the prosecuting attorney for the city. He was slavering mad-dog rabid about running prostitution out of the city. He was as pretentious, ignorant and obnoxious as many a politician. Then he got caught on tape, in a sting operation, with a hooker. Turns out he'd been seeing them for years. The girls he had been paying for sex were the same ones he was trying to put in prison. The right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. Or in P's case, maybe his brain didn't know what his doodad was doing.
P. suffered from hubris. "I am good, and you are bad." To maintain his good self-image, he had to project his problems onto other people. In his case, prostitutes. Since he was too weak to change himself (or denied he had a problem) he tried to change the environment, and other people. It never works.
He didn't try to change himself from "the inside out." He tried to use force to change others from "the outside in." Changing the environment, and other people "out there" was somehow supposed to change him "in here." That's pretty screwed up. But then, he was a screwed up man, just like the average politician.
P. didn't see those girls as people. He saw them as things. Little dolls for him to work upon, instead of working on himself. On one hand, he treated them as things for his lust. On the other hand, he treated them as things for his anger and wrath.
How many politicians are the same way? How many see people as things, to be used and manipulated because they are too weak of a human being to change themselves? Joann, even though she was a whore and a junkie, wanted to change herself. Who's worse - her, or a politician? The opposite of hubris is humility. Joann was humble enough to know what she was, and to seek help.
Many politicians are scapegoaters. When they gain political power they use it to project their sicknesses onto other people. It's why politics is so destructive, since it almost always attracts the sick, who try to change others through force instead of changing themselves.
When nemesis follows a politicians' hubris, and they get caught doing what they're not supposed to do, all say they are going to quit what they were doing. The only reason they quit is because they get caught. Do they have a real change of heart and mind? No, they don't. They just get caught. Very few truly repent, unlike Joann. The only one I can think of offhand is Chuck Colson - and he was involved in Watergate. That was a long time ago.
For years I wondered why Jesus hung out with the outcasts and scapegoats in his society. Prostitutes, for one. And drunkards, I'll bet. He said they needed "a doctor." Did he think they were more liable for a real change of heart, for true repentance, than the "elites"? He mocked the "virtuous" of his time, the grandiose, self-righteous, scapegoating ones who thought they were God's Chosen and saw no need to change what they were. If the typical modern politician had been alive in those days, they'd be Pharisees. This is why I believe politicians and politics can solve nothing. It's about politicians trying to change others through force instead of changing themselves.
The desire for true change, real repentance ( which means "to turn around and go the other way", is why I have respect for a whore and junkie like Joann, and none for almost all politicians. And Joann sure didn't think she had the right to pass judgment on others, as most politicians think they do. "Judge not, lest you be judged."
"The first shall be last, and the last shall be first." I'm not exactly sure what the last half of that sentence means, but I know what the first part means. I'm positive most politicians don't, though.