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Surprising Jealousy

“Envy is the most stupid of vices, for there is no single advantage to be gained from it.” ~Honore de Balzac

Jealousy is not a helpful emotion. There is very little goodness in it, although it serves as one of our primary fall backs, as it is the emotion connected to our most primitive survival mechanisms. Forbidden in all of the ancient religious texts,  our earliest ancestors knew the damage that coveting and jealousy can wreak not just in our primary relationships but also in our attempts to build community.

Still , I imagine I am not the only woman who looked on at the fuss of the Royal Wedding, experiencing pangs of envy at the wonder of watching a woman become a princess. Royalty, whether bestowed by blood lineage of excessive wealth often stirs these feelings in me.  The distance between those who have and those who don’t has only expanded exponentially during my lifetime and the excesses that we celebrate in the face of so much need infuriates me.

It isn’t only that I wish that our many forms of privilege demanded equal amounts of responsibility, but sometimes lately as I work so hard to prove my capacity and justify my own work as worthy of investment, I get struck by the store of jealousy that lives inside me. Is it only the frustration of not having easy access to the resources that others seem to wade in waste deep without even noticing or is it truly an injustice. I am unsure.

A story from my adolescence still comes to mind at these times. Jacob I Have Loved retells the biblical story of two siblings – one who seems eternally blessed and the other who never quite finds the same access or ease to life’s goodness.  The blessed brother’s joy and gratitude begets more of the same, while the one who struggles and brings bitterness to his losses, only creates more of the same. I have for many years of my life grappled with the seeming injustice of this.

The positivity quest has clarified this dynamic for me because I know that our internal script is both the multiplier and the truest reflection of what we manifest in our outer world. Why some are born with the proverbial silver spoon while so many make food from grass or insects will always baffle me, but I know from a few old and precious friendships that jealousy adds nothing useful. Jealousy does not cure injustice and it brings you no closer at all to your own good.