Monday, January 14, 2008

In Defense of Sloth

Dante had it wrong. Sloth is no sin, deadly or otherwise. If anything it is a virtue. A gift. A unique trait, cultivated through centuries of evolution, that has contributed greatly towards the success of our species. Yet, for eons sloth has been looked down upon as a sign of weakness. An excuse for inertia. An evil that restrains creativity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is sloth a noble pursuit, it is the driving force for all human progress.

It is often argued that technology has made us lazy. I scoff at the notion, and aver that it is not technology that induces laziness, but laziness that has given birth to technology. Almost every major invention that's ever taken place has been motivated by laziness. It was the reluctance to walk that extra mile that gave us the wheel. An aversion to physical labour that led to the industrial revolution. Just think about it. Where would you be if the remote control - that most remarkable symbol of languid indolence - were not invented. All the way across the room trying to change the channel, that's where.

Slowly but surely, people across the world are starting to give sloth its due. Last week witnessed one such celebration in Bogota, Colombia. In an unprecedented event, the museum of Bogota organized a week-long exhibit dedicated to laziness, inviting people to lie down, slouch and generally indulge in avoidance of work. Needless to say, the exhibit was a big hit. Maybe someday such museums will be commonplace, celebrating the joys of sloth all over the world. I, for one, would be first in line to get in. Or maybe not. It sounds like too much effort.


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