The Attack Zone : Pride, Envy and Rath ( Martha Beck : The Way of Integrity p. 205)

For the next few days, I am going to randomly select words of wisdom from the 100s of books that I own. I have always been an avid reader and I also love to refer to books at random to receive the wisdom of the words that are present on the page. May you receive these words with the same joy that I discover in finding them.

“You may recall the way sinners were arranged in Dante’s inferno. First, the souls who’d committed innocent errors, then “the violent” and then the liars. Since purgatory is the mirror image of the inferno, the order is reversed here. The first and hardest step is to stop lying to ourselves. Now we encounter errors of righteousness. It’s time to deal with people (and aspects of ourselves) who are violent in thought and action.

My Catholic-school-educated readers may recall there are seven “deadly sins”: sloth, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, envy and wrath. In Dante’s theology, the first four don’t hurt anyone but the sinner, but the last three are violent. They make people attack each other. Pride doesn’t just say “I am good”, it says “I’m better than someone else”. Envy doesn’t just make us want stuff, it makes us want at least as much stuff as someone else. Wrath isn’t random; it’s targeted at someone else. When we lock into errors of righteousness, we invariably point at someone else and turn them into what therapist Bill Eddy calls “targets of blame”.