Envy, according to the Bible is an evil that leads to quarrels, fights, disorder, and “every vile practice”. Perhaps so. Especially when it is not kept in its due place and is allowed to take over one self.
There is such fear of feeling envy. Since childhood we are taught not to feel ‘envy’ and ‘jealousy’… given hues and colours of the worst evil, that innocent longings for something another has gets buried and twisted into unacceptable feelings.
Why is it so difficult to accept that one feels envy? That one (also) wants something another has ? My readings and research on many issues frequently visits me to the comforts of the Western countries. And I do find myself feeling envy – for streets which one can walk on, not filled with garbage, filth and what not, for well-kept parks and public spaces, for something as simple as being able to cross the road without fear of being run-over, for psychological spaces to be able to express artistic talents… Yes, I do feel I want those things to. Just to be able to live in a non-stressful environment.
I used to push away these feelings and convince myself with arguments about how unhappy people are in the West. About lack of community bonding. About living in a manicured and un-real world.
I have felt envy when I have met people or read their writings, who are thinkers and can imagine and articulate. I find myself wanting to be able to think like them, have a mind that is vast and is able to make connection. To be able to envision. Or great artistes, musicians who can make powerful music that moves the soul, artworks that lunge into one’s psyche.
Yes, along with my admiration and awe, I have felt twinges of envy … of wanting to able to do such things. Somewhere I have felt that to be able to express oneself in such a manner requires powerful feelings inside.
What I find now is something very releasing for me. My very acceptance and acknowledgement of my feelings of envy, removed the ‘evil’ that I believed it had. I find envy an interesting emotion now. I find it puts me in touch with my sense of deprivation. It allows me to feel feelings of “want”. It allows me to get in touch with areas where I feel poor or needy. Somehow, this envy fills blank areas inside me which otherwise were not explainable.
If we just allow the label of “evil” and “bad” to fall away from envy (and other such emotions), we can allow ourselves to become ‘better’ people. Freer. Less hapless. More comfortable. Easier with oneself.