Number 2 on the roll of the Se7en Deadly Sins is envy. Envy is second on the Highway to Hell Sin List, as it lags behind pride a wee little bit in being the nastiest and most common vice. Primal in its poison, envy forms a big chunk of the foul compost heap that stimulates the growth for human stupidity aplenty.
Envy (like pride), is an extremely deadly sin that doesn’t get the verbal hailstorm that other sins get in our current culture with its totemic view of vice. Someone who’s been saddled by the envy monkey will probably not make the evening news like a politician who’s been caught in bed with a live man or a dead woman.
No, envy is not that sexy and it doesn’t have the buzz that zings around a loudmouthed, bloated and hateful lesbian, or a priest who’s a porn addict or a greedy Enron exec. Because this sin doesn’t get the National Enquirer’s attention like the more juicy transgressions, we tend to see it as less naughty. But be not deceived, my brethren: this sin is a double meat whopper of deft disaster once it sticks its talons into a person, or a party, or a religion, or a nation.
Another distinguishing feature about the funk of envy is that it is no fun. Y’know, I’m not supposed to say this, but, most sins are enjoyable. C’mon . . . you know they are. Sure, the peccadillo’s pleasure is a passing one, but the fact remains that they are tasty; if they weren’t, we wouldn’t entertain them. All vices sport a momentary spice. All of them, that is, except for envy. Envy is the one sin the sinner will never like or admit. You’ll never see someone who is envious chilling out, laughing his butt off, or relaxing with his homies while this demon is in the house. The more envy grows, the more it drives its impenitent coddler insane.
So, what is envy? I’ll start with what it is not. It’s not admiring what someone else has and wanting some good stuff also. This desire will make you get off your butt in the morning and get busy. It is good to crave. A man’s appetite will make him work.
Where envy differs from admiration/emulation is that envy is “sorrow at another’s good” (Thomas Aquinas). Someone who’s centered can watch another person, or a party, or a nation righteously prosper and not hate them for it.
The whacked, petty, envious idiot sees someone else excel and is slapped in the face with the reality that he just got dogged. So, instead of sucking it up and working harder and smarter, the unwise envious freak allows his pride to fuel his wounded wittle spirit. This sets the dejected perp down a path of disparagement of the prosperous that eventually morphs into the desire to destroy the person, party or nation that has just trumped this poor little chump.