On Envy

Envy, in general terms, is an individual person’s expression of dissatisfaction and acrimony triggered by another person’s possessions, qualities, success or advantages in life. It is basically a feeling caused by a belief that if someone else is in possession of a valuable property, either material or mental, s/he should also have the same. In a lot of ways, it is blown out of proportion by the persistent question, Why does s/he have it and I don’t when the truth of the matter is, I am much better than s/he in terms of intelligence or looks or financial capability? Having this egotistical idea in mind, one puts her/himself in a competitive position against someone who doesn’t even have an iota of hint that the former has already launched a “war” against him.

This whole tendency on the part of the envious person could start from the most fundamental stage of reaction to the most hostile–and thus destructive–posturing, i.e., to the point of getting into a “programmed” action of going around and brazenly spreading damaging lies about the other person against whom her/his envious feeling is directed. This is a “tactical” move grounded on the belief that pulling the other person down will give the envious attacker the vantage point to put the former at her/his level if not to actually have an upper hand over her/him. Because in many instances it is next to an impossibility for the envious one to instantly match the level of the other person whom s/he thinks is over and above her/him at a certain point in time, pulling her/him down is the quickest option.

The envious person is enslaved by the notion that if s/he cannot “lick” the envied person as yet, the better condition is to let the latter join him in her/his lower state of being. At the present moment, equality down below is the most feasible “plan of action” that will make the envious feel better and the envied humbled if not totally humiliated defending on the intensity of the peddled lie. Self-conceit creates such a lie based on an unrealistic estimation of one’s real status and capabilities in life. In this sense, what characterizes a person’s strong feeling of envy is an outright delusion. On this basis and at this point of the discussion, it may reasonably be said that the principal factor prompting envy is delusion: a bizarre idea or apprehension sustained by irrationality despite the fact that it goes against the fiber of reality.

On a lighter side, envy may not really be as destructive as we have previously seen especially in a situation where the envied matter is no big deal at all. It could be an affordable item possessed by the envied and may easily be obtained through the personal capability of the envious. However, there is still something negative lurking underneath the mentality of the latter if such an envious feeling has become a common tendency. In other words, if it is something considered and entertained normally and spontaneously as it occurs every now and then with a certain degree of sustained consistency, it goes through an “evolution” that opens up the possibility of getting worse as time passes by. And as it gets worse, the moral balance of the envious person intensifies to an unreasonable and hence damaging level. Getting at this point, the envious person whose attitude has gotten worse can lead to the commission of nefarious activities that are not only damaging to her/himself but likewise to other people. If the envied stuff is a material possession, a possible outcome by the time one has reached such an escalated point is to resort to at least, stealing and at worst, full-scale robbery.

In the final analysis, what we have seen is the fact that envy is actually grounded on an unrealistic perception of one’s lot in life. It is a failure to grasp one’s scope and limits of capabilities within the framework of what is real in her/his condition. In this sense, if an individual person has a strong grasp of her/his own reality, envy is most unlikely to happen. Having a sober disposition in life and a realistic acceptance of what is and what is not within the sphere of her/his being is the best antidote against envy. This mindset doesn’t, however, prevent us from pursuing a better life. But let’s always get reminded that such is only possible within the realistic limits of our existential circumstances.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 05 June 2019

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