Location: Santa Ana, California, United States

Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics and an admitted diet fanatic. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of two interactive workbooks, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual and Diet With An Attitude: A Weight Loss Workbook, she also publishes a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge and various weight loss mini-courses. She can be reached at,, or

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The 7 Deadly Sins are now American Icons

With the focus of the world on the change of power in Rome, now seems like an appropriate time to look at some tenets of that ancient faith as developed through the centuries.

We all break one of the 10 commandments occasionally, and feel terribly guilty afterwards. The 7 deadly sins are something else: not only do we too frequently display them, but our culture seems bent on idolizing them! Consider:


The arrogance of believing that our way is the only way and asserting our certainty about how the world should work is exemplified by President Bush and his right-wing minions. The fact that he won re-election confirms that our citizens have no aversion to excessive pride, no matter what their particular religious doctrine prescribes.


"Keeping up with the Joneses" is a cultural pursuit touching all levels - we want what others have, we want it now, and we will build up our personal debt (just like the National Debt) to get it. Not only do we crave the expensive toys that confer rarefied social status, we rejoice in the fall of our competition and take secret delight in the firing of a coworker who beat us out of a promotion or the fall of a public personality who unfairly seemed to have it all.


Road rage entered the common vernacular when it became a common occurrence. We no longer publicly counsel patience and personal restraint, we laud the value of being upfront and aggressive. Business executives strive to be straight shooters and drivers, seeing self-contained, mild workers as passive and non-managerial material. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it any more" is a rallying cry for any cause we promote.


While we continue to extol the virtues of hard work and personal effort, we quietly buy our lottery tickets, while away our time at the alluring casinos now dotting the national landscape, and enter every contest where we might get something for nothing. Surf the Internet and try to count the ubiquitous and seductive ads promising monstrous income levels without work, without effort, without thought, without meaning.


We are constantly hearing of scams that have left hundreds of people penniless, homeless, or otherwise terribly hurt. Why are so many victimized? Trace the swindle to its core and there sits greed - the promise of a better investment return, more income, making a small fortune. While most of us are well aware that something that sounds too good to be true probably isn't, we still fall for it if the reward sounds good enough. Do you think the spammers would keep sending out those emails "I am the widow of the late Nkrumo Obol who amassed 25 million dollars . . . " if they never received one response?


Ah! Super-sized America. Two thirds of us are overweight, four in ten clinically obese. Do we have a national metabolic problem? No, we are a nation of guzzlers: we eat too, too much food, consume voluminous cheap foreign goods to the tune of billions of dollars per year, and siphon the majority of the earth's oil into our gluttonous SUVs. We have lost all sense of moderation and balance. We live to consume and then poison our environment with the garbage such overconsumption produces.


Forty percent of marriages involve at least one affair. Our religious leaders, sports stars, celebrities and even a former President, indulge their libidos when opportunity combines with personal power. Sex has become the vehicle for selling anything and everything, its economic value proved over and over. Desperate housewives and Internet pornography are not mere "lusting in my heart" but reveal the lurid landscape we have developed that creates superstars out of those who exude sex and virility as if it were a talent or a sign of character. We have birthed industries and empires based solely on gossip, rumor, and the promise of sexually-oriented details. Plastic surgeons become millionaires over the bodies they rework for the goal of increasing desirability and eliciting greater lust in the eyes of the beholder.

Are these sins really deadly? Regardless of the "moral value" vote trumpeted after the 2004 elections, few of us regard all manifestations of these sins as totally unacceptable. We may be tempted, we may fall short of our aspirations. But when we elevate such personal and characterological weaknesses to the level of cultural goals, we pay the price: a violent, dangerous, and self-destructive society that demands ever more aggressive security, protection, and policing, and produces a burgeoning prison population.


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