The ABC kicks off a special edition of The Book Club this week with a consideration of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’. You might wonder what Jennifer Byrne and her worldly-wise guests could say about sin when the one book they leave out of consideration is the Bible. But their observations make it clear that even those who ignore God know a problem when they see it.
The first episode of The Seven Deadly Sins includes contributions from captains of industry, marketing gurus and erudite philosophers, and focuses its attention on the topic of greed. Clearly there were always going to be some rationalisations going on, given the sorts of people being asked to comment. However their determination to draw on books written through the ages to make their points reveals humanity may ignore its Creator but it’s long recognised the problems that arise from putting other things in His place:
1. Greed breeds greed – Novelist Shane Maloney points out that greed is more than just wanting more. It’s a driving emotion that draws its power from wanting what other people have. “The thing that makes greed a vice or a sin is the notion to want to have it all”, he says. “You don’t just want to have sumptuous dinners, you want to eat everyone else’s helpings as well.”
2. Greed is endemic, not systemic – Of course capitalism came in for a thrashing as panel members pointed out that greed provided the drive for our economic system. But corporate high-flyer Geoff Cousins was keen to point out that greed could exist in any society that contained humans. “It hasn’t go to do with any system – it’s got to with the basic human motivation”, he says. “And it will run riot in any community where there isn’t”, …”any proper system for containing behaviour.”
3. Greed is blighted love – Entrepreneur Jane Allis wants to suggest that you can only go forward or backward in business, so expanding markets to whatever extent is possible is a good thing. And she believes the same might be said of people: “Aren’t we always about getting bigger, better somehow?” But advertising expert Dee Madigan wisely notes that not all forms of devotion are equal. “It’s essentially about greed or love”, she suggests. “And greed is just misplaced love.”
But don’t be surprised if Seven Deadly Sins leaves you well informed about the scope of our problems but still in the lurch when the credits roll. Ultimately host Jennifer Byrne uses sin as more of a talking point than a serious concern. She wonders whether struggling with such problems are just part of what it means to be human, and Allis agrees:
“In life you have the saints and the sinners, and you’re not going to change that. And I think we all have different degrees of saint and sin and we’re all on that range, so you’re never going to get rid of it. It’s just part of human nature.”
So just get used to sin? Oh well. Great diagnosis, sorry to see no sign of the cure.
Release Date: Tuesdays, 10:00 PM (premiers July 15)