10 February 2010

Daily Quotation

What is envy?  Unfortunately most people use the word wrongly as a synonym for jealously [sic].  But jealously [sic] is not the same as envy.  When I am jealous of you, you have something I want and I wish to possess it inordinately.  But the key point is that there is somehting good about you or something good you have and I want to have it for myself.  When jealousy is sinful I want it inordinately or unreasonably.  But envy is very different.  Envy is sorrow, sadness or anger at the goodness or excellence of someone else because I take it to lessen my own excellence.  But the key difference with envy is that (unlike jealousy) I do not want to posses the good or excellence you have.  I want to destroy it


[T]here is an odd form of envy out there that is particularly annoying because it masquerades as sensitivity and kindness.  Go with me to a typical neighbordood soccer game or baseball game.  The children are on the field and playing their hearts out.  But on the sidelines a decision has been made not to keep score.  Why?  Because the kids [sic] little egos might be damaged by losing.  Frankly, it isn't the egos of the children we're protecting here, it is the parents.  The fact it [sic] that the kids know the score in most cases.  But God forbid that on the sports field there should be winners or losers!  The losers might "feel bad."  The solution is to destroy or to refuse to acknowledge goodness and excellence in some children because it is taken to lessen the goodness or excellence of the "losers."  This is envy and it teaches terrible things by omission.  First of all it fails to teach that there are winners and losers in life.  This is a fact.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.  Either way I should be gracious.  Secondly, it fails to reward excellence and this is unjust for excellence should be rewarded and the reward should motivate others to be excellent.  Much is lost when we fail to praise what is good.  Another example of this envious practice is at school award ceremonies where sometimes (literally) hundred [sic] of awards are given out.  There are the traditional Honor Roll awards but then a plethora of made up awards so that everyone gets something.  I've even witnessed awards given for the nicest smile.  But the problem is that when every on is awarded no one is awarded.  Once again envy rears it [sic] ugly head but this time it's wearing a smiley face.  God forbid that some kids [sic] little ego might be bruised it [sic] he doesn't get something.  God forbid that someone else's excellence might make me look less excellent by comparison.  The bottom line is that it is envy:  sorrow at someone else's excellence because I take it to lessen my own.  And frankly this isn't the kids [sic] issue, it's usually parents and teachers projecting their own struggle with envy on the kids.  But the fact is, there are simply some people who are better than I am a [sic] certain things.  But that's OK.  I don't have all the gifts, you don't have all the gifts.  But together we have all the gifts. 

Envy is ugly, even when it masquerades as kindness.  It diminishes and often seeks to destroy goodness and excellence.  The proper response to excellence and goodness is and should always be joy and zeal. 
~ Monsignor Charles Pope - The Evil of Envy ~

1 comment:

  1. An excellent meditation. I was thinking of this as we gave our first senior thesis awards last night and being grateful that the other students were able (as far as I can tell, and I know most of them pretty well) were rejoicing for and with Millie and Daniel and not envying them as we celebrated their excellence.