Read Time 7 minutes (1152 words)
“With great power comes great responsibility.” This quote is often attributed to Spider Man’s (aka Peter Parker’s) uncle Ben. But this adage actually dates back almost 2500 years to the story of the Sword of Damocles.
The Sword of Damocles represents the nearly unbearably ponderous responsibility that comes with all the trappings of fame, fortune, power, and influence. Damocles envies Dionysius for his fortune as the rich and powerful king, so Dionysius offers him the throne for a day. Damocles eagerly jumps at the chance, only to find that unmatched opulence, beauty, power, and influence is accompanied by a sword hanging above the throne by only a single hair from the mane of a horse. This represents the constant, persistent peril under which such power is wielded.
Damocles quickly relinquishes the throne because he can’t handle the pressure. And you likely will, too. It takes tremendous character to see this not as power, opulence, fame, and fortune. A virtuous man of strong character sees this as a tremendous responsibility and isn’t threatened by it at all. In fact, he embraces it because it gives him his meaning.
The 7 Deadly Sins corrupt your character, making you worthy of neither Power NOR Responsibility
Not to be confused with self-worth, pride is a disordered sense of self that often leads to decisions strictly directed at feeding the ego. I mention pride first because pride is usually fed by the remaining 6 Deadly Sins. Arrogance and pompousness ultimately invite the ire of enemies. This causes paranoia that can even destroy relationships with loyal supporters because everyone is seen as a threat. Pride cometh before the fall; so much so that it resulted in the light-bringer Lucifer’s fall from Heaven. Clout chasing for likes and followers is the social media method of monetizing pride. “Owning” your enemies feeds pride, too, even if it makes you more like them in the process. Can you be the better man?
The first way pride is fed is through material possession. Greed is the disordered desire to collect and possess as much as possible, at all costs. There is no better way to prove to the world that you’re great than by showing off what you’ve been able to acquire. The more you acquire, though, the more you desire. It’s never enough until you have all the stuff. I can keep rhyming all day, but you get the point. Greed is a bottomless pit of unfulfillable desires that causes some of the greatest among us to commit unspeakable atrocities. People will lie, cheat, steal, and even kill to feed their greed. Can you you’re your composure without all your whims being granted?
Just look around at the world and see the havoc lust has wrought. People can’t even define the words “woman” and “man” anymore and children have become the unfortunate play things of depraved sociopaths. Can you recognize your body’s natural design? Can you channel those natural instincts for their proper purpose? Or are you going to be out here as an agent of chaos leaving your progeny worse off for generations to come?
There’s nothing wrong with righteous anger. There’s plenty of evil in the world to direct your anger toward. But lashing out because of a bruised ego or a disagreement over money or a woman? This is where you get yourself in big trouble. Can you calm yourself and live to fight another day?
All things in moderation. Nothing wrong with enjoying the finer things in life, but giving in to your taste for excess in these finer things can be self-destructive. We see addiction and illness take down some of the most talented and creative people in the world on a routine basis. And the more you allow yourself to be enslaved by these desires, the more vulnerable you are to manipulation and double-crossing. Your enemies will learn your deepest, darkest secrets and exploit them.
When you can’t be happy because someone else is, you are revealing a deep character flaw that you are projecting. You think they don’t deserve what they have? Are you sure? You think YOU deserve it? On what basis? If you can’t recognize your own culpability in your state in life, you’re in no position to judge another’s. Can you be self-aware?
The ultimate culmination of the 7 deadly sins is just giving up and giving in to laziness and apathy. Everything is everyone else’s fault but your own. So you’d rather lounge around and complain about it and feed all your other vices than actually do the work necessary to be where you want to be. Are you willing to get off your ass to be who you were created and DESTINED to be?
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?
Looking at the imbalance of power in the world and imagining what it would look like if you could take over and install your worldview on a global scale is the first fatal flaw of humanity. If you are of low character, you will simply become the vilemonster you see as the enemy and you’ll never even see it coming. You must first build your character so the Sword of Damocles isn’t even a threat. But how?
As one of our past guests on Aquarian Anarchy, King Randall, said “find your work ethic before you find your purpose.” Build your character and your purpose will reveal itself.
7 Opposing Virtues to the 7 Deadly Sins
It is not enough to simply try to avoid these vices to build your character. Idle minds and idle hands are the devil’s playground. We weren’t built to avoid things, we were built to go out, seek, find and achieve something. To move from the destructive forces of vice, seek virtue. This will give you purpose, meaning and direction.
Not false humility, but really stepping back and not being afraid to learn and be corrected toward growth.
As in the parable of the talents, if you can be trusted as a good steward in small matters, you’ll be worthy of trust in larger matters.
When we don’t see people exclusively for how we may use them, we begin to be capable of building strong, valuable, and lasting relationships.
The patient man will live a long and prosperous life because he won’t risk his longevity and legacy for temporary pleasure. All good things come to those who wait.
Everything for its purpose in its proper proportion.
Your time will come. Respect those whose time has already come or whose time is now. Build with them or, at the very least, learn from them. And be an inspiration to those who come after you.
Never give up. Act. Every day, make at least a small move in the direction of your purpose.
This week, we had Michael Heise from the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus on Aquarian Anarchy to discuss his thoughts on character, purpose, meaning, and how it animates his endeavors.