Envy – Sorrow for another person’s good – Thomas Aquinas.
Most people think that “envy” is synonymous with greed. However, envy is quite a different animal entirely. When a person is greedy, their actions might hurt others to produce a gain for himself. However, when a person is envious, they seek to bring destruction on another, even if it costs them more in the process. Envy occurs when hate of another’s success trumps logical reason and healthy self interest.
In Dante’s Inferno, the punishment for the envious was to have their eyes sewn shut with wire because they had gained pleasure from simply seeing others brought to suffering. It is a powerful symbol of how detestable envy is.
Envy is a major problem with our society today. In fact, it has been a major plague on governments for centuries. It is a cancer of ideas that eats away at the civil discourse of a nation, plunging it into vengeful and foolish actions. Class warfare, unfair taxes, regulations that punish success, can all be seen as manifestations of envy in modern America.
A democracy, where the majority are driven by envy, cannot remain a free society. Such nations are driven to radical ideologies like communism, socialism, and fascism. Even in our own country, the idea that “someone has to be in control” of every action, has its roots in envy.
States that engage in legislation by envy do so at their own expense. They often destroy businesses, reduce societal wealth, and ruin the future of their nation.
Now, there is often a symbiotic relationship between greed and envy. The greedy usually cannot secure power without motivating a large part of the population to rise up in envious retribution against the “other” side. Once the greedy can manipulate the populace, their “minions” are so blinded by hate (for whatever the popular group to hate is at the time), that they work for free. In the end, the greedy gain at the expense of those who let envy get the best of them.
So the moral of the story: Check your heart and mind the next time you feel your blood boil at someone’s success. Do you have a legitimate reason for anger, or are you making yourself a slave to envy?
If you can, turn that energy toward a productive outcome and make your own success story! Choose to build up, rather than tear down. You and your neighbors will all be better for it!