Envy, by definition, is to be jealous and bear ill will toward those who may possess what the individual who expresses it wants or desires to have for their own. Okay, here we go. Often, we will say we envy someone who got the Tesla car that we would love to have as our own, to show off and drive around and make others envious. Or we may look at the person with the huge house and beautifully landscaped yard in Beverly Hills and envy their having it while we live in crowded circumstances with a “cracker-box” tract house. We don’t think it becomes a cardinal sin of envy however, until we truly do bear ill will toward the person who has these things. We ALWAYS want to have the best, look the best, even inspire envy amongst others. But to wish that the owner of the things we desire be hurt, physically or in any way, or resent that owner to the point of hating them without even knowing them–that’s a sin. So, do we commit the Cardinal Sin of envy? Well, sorta, kinda. Let us explain.
First, we don’t really tend to envy someone else’s material possessions. Of course, living in Bakersfield during the summer, we truly do envy those who don’t have to worry about cooling bills and/or have their own private swimming pool. Ahhh, to have no worries about keeping cool! But we do not wish them harm. Our tendency would be to make friends and get invited over to swim and sit in a cool house:) . With our friends, we find ourselves ecstatic and joyous over their getting a new car, a beautiful home, a pay raise, new carpet, and on and on. We don’t envy them or resent their obtaining what they desire. We are happy for them. We have been ridiculed for this, but sincerely, we are happy for them and thrilled they allow us to share in their joy and excitement. We naively, we guess, thoroughly enjoy their happiness! Happy people are great fun to be around!
So how do we commit the Cardinal Sin of envy–sorta, kinda? Well, honest truth, if we get to be around people who are intellectual, practically geniuses, or talented in music, sculpting and painting, or any of the arts, creative…oh, how we ENVY them! We sorta, kinda commit the sin of envy in wanting to have their brains, their talent, their sheer brilliance. But never, NEVER would we wish them harm or bear thoughts of ill will toward them. Who, in any realm of sanity, would wish ill or harm to a creative and brilliant person? We sometimes dream of being able to write a song, create a masterpiece, sculpt or paint a memorable work–and we envy those who can so much!
We had a best friend from seventh grade throughout high school. We were good in English and writing papers, he was great at the sciences and math. We edited and corrected his papers to turn in and he literally got us through geometry and most of chemistry. We made a good team and appreciated each other’s “talents.” Then we graduated high school and we went on to raise kids and become an English teacher at two colleges and he was ushered into NASA as an astrophysicist. Of course! He was that brilliant! I was envious, but so proud to know him and have been around such a wonderful mind. He, too, shared our type of envy. As high schoolers, we would talk about who we would like to have an hour or so with if we could be with anyone in the world. Of course, the first names that came to mind for both were George Harrison of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and oddly, Goethe. Then my friend said, seriously, Galileo, and we wistfully said Gandhi. He wanted to pick the brain of Galileo and we wanted to know the peace and wisdom of Gandhi. Yes, we both envied these great thinkers and people of wisdom. Wish them harm? NEVER! Envy their insights? oh, YES! Both of us had seen the destructiveness of sinful ENVY in our individual lives and had no desire to be caught up in it. Our families had shown us numerous examples of how miserable they were because of what they couldn’t, or simply did not have that others did. It was not something we aspired to.
We did both appreciate the opposite, the virtue countering Envy. It was GRATITUDE. Being raised in a poor farming community, going to high school in the neighboring “bedroom city” of the rich and well off, we saw and knew what Envy inspired and brought about. And we were grateful, felt a real sense of gratitude, that we could distinguish between surface wealth of the city we went to high school in, and the poor town where our neighbors helped each other out with kindness and compassion. Everything we saw of wealth centered around materialism, who had what, where their city’s students would attend college after graduation. Our small town cheered on both students who acquired a trade after graduation and helped out their families and neighbors and cheered those going on for a college education. WE felt supported! Their city’s people lived in constant fear of being snubbed for not maintaining the status quo. We were encouraged if bad times fell upon us. Yes, we were grateful, felt gratitude.
Now, when we look around and are aware of the current environment, we still feel gratitude. We have a roof over our head. We have food. We have friends. We have those who love and support us. How can you envy those with the big house who live alone with no one to talk to? How can you envy those with the money to buy whatever they want on a whim and no one to share it with? A car now, new to you but “used” to the world, gains smiles and genuine happiness for you among friends. And on another level, nothing is more bolstering than sharing what you have with someone who does not have that and receiving a smile and hug of thanks. No, we can’t take a trip overseas and see Greece, Portugal, France, Ireland–places we would love to see and experience. But if our friends are fortunate enough to do so, and think of us and send photos and share their impressions, oh! WE ARE SO RICH! And we are ever so grateful to them for sharing! Even today, this very day, it has rained and been cold but now the sun is breaking through the clouds. Our souls feel gratitude for the sunshine and our sense of peace as it glistens on the puddles.
Yes, we envy others. We envy their minds, their calm and striving spirits, their bravery at asking questions aloud that we only think in our minds. But never would we envy them to the point of ill will or resentfulness. So have we sinned? That is for someone else to determine and we will just remain full of gratitude that when we can be around these gifted and peaceful souls we are inspired to create more, be more, learn more, love more so that we can share more. You be the judge.
So tomorrow our last Cardinal Sin and then the little ones that pull everyone down to the same level–heh heh. Hope you’ll find those thought provoking, too. 🙂