Thursday, 30 July 2009

Envy (vs Gratitude)

It is easy to be jealous or envious of another. And we can be envious of just about anything: possessions, spouse, children, career, coiffure, "luck". Is there anything wrong with a little envy? It's natural, isn't it? Well, on that last point, it is to be expected given the way we experience human nature currently. On the former point, yes, there is something wrong with a little envy, and for two reasons (at least). First, it is the nature of sin to grow in us and, potentially, rule our lives. This is particularly so with a human reality like envy. We can end up filled by it and its cousins jealousy and covetousness. And the door is wide open then to malice and bitterness. The second reason why even a little envy is best avoided is what we miss out on while we are envious. Life! Instead of living one's own life, envy leads us to someone else's. The antidote? Gratitude. The grateful person is centred on their own life, and is able to look for the gifts in their life, exploring, affirming, living, even when they aspire to improve their life and become more fully human.

But grateful to whom? It is not enough to be just aware of the good things in your life. This is good, but not enough to keep envy at bay. One of the benefits of faith is that we can be grateful because we have someone to be grateful to, namely God.

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