Of envy and deadly sins

Jheronimus Bosch Table of the Mortal Sins (Invidia)2

Not surprisingly I watched Verdi's Aida yesterday from Metropolitan opera. Seen it many times, and now just enjoying the  best of the music and following Verdi's way to create drama till the thrilling end. He is pessimist: he does not believe anything else but negative, tragic ends. As the final end came, I learned that he probably tried to hint the double-standards of magnificent religious masses. In this case, in ancient Egypt, with all its luxury and grandeur, in the same time with cruel execution of politically "wrong" love.  Perhaps it tried to point out that where there is  discuss of ethics and morals, there are also hidden black motives and cruelty.
After opera, it came to my mind that I would like to say something about envy and its motives in human life. Envy: feeling nobody wants to feel, but all do. We want much in this life: in our life we are constantly looking for something more in any field.  Who wants to end constant consuming, constant thriving for  intellectual understanding, and to be socially more and more liked? Even with consuming there are serious threats, we cannot stop it.  As if we cannot live  without feeling that we are highly evaluated if we only have more and more of anything.

Envy is tricky feeling, as it informs as - if we want to listen it - that  we do not have something somebody else has, and we feel inferior because of that. We desperately think that if I have the same thing as another person, we could be as appreciated and valued as s/he.  Envy makes us to feel as weak, inferior, not so special as somebody else.  Why has another person invited that big idea? She is not that clever that she is worth of it!  No, she is not that good in anything that she can has it! I want it! It was me who actually invited the whole thing, and I want it immediately to me! I can steal it!

Envy can be used for good or bad. For evil purposes, if somebody invites something too good and I envy it, I can loan or steal it and use it for my own purposes. It does not matter how the person under the process feels of it: it matters that it is me who is not more feeling weak and inferior without it. I have now the same thing as the another who originally had it: I am good.

Envy can also be used  for positive purposes. There is no need to copy-paste or steal the idea of another. One can create totally new innovation, something potentially independent and original. The feeling of envy can be starting point to create more, not just by imitating another's idea, but trusting on one's own capability to create new. Thus, envy can be very positive feeling, although it is irritating to feel to be inferior.

In itself, understanding one's boundaries in life, to understand that there are limits in everything and in life, is teaching experience. We cannot get everything and things will stay undone in the end of our lives.  We probably and usually do not get everything we want, so we do not get all the envied things to ourselves.  After some time we often forget that we have envied something, and may laugh afterward why we have had been so keen to get something.

How is this connected to wisdom? In important way. Deep self-understanding is mentioned to be one component of wisdom (e.g. in Monika Ardelt's model of wisdom). To accept one's envy and to act and behave ethically with it is possible. To act unethically is also possible. As humans, we have both ways open.

(Credits of the photo: HieronymosBosch: Seven deadly sins.Wikimedia Commons.​https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Jheronimus_Bosch_Table_of_the_Mortal_Sins_%28Invidia%292.jpg)

(Originally posted 14/10/2018)

Comments