Envy the most relatable of the seven deadly sins consumes so many of us on a day to day basis, but what exactly is envy? Envy has many different versions of the definition but the most commonly used is, wanting something that someone else has because you feel like they aren’t worthy enough for it. Envy can be defined in many different ways based on the person explaining it.Most people don’t like admitting that they are envious, and that is why envy is a secretly kept emotion, because most of us don’t want others to know that we feel envious of them. We are typically envious of those who we are similar to, but they are better in most aspects of their lives.
Most of the time envy causes you to work hard to try and be better than the person you envy, but then you keep finding yourself coming back and evaluating yourself and your self worth. Dante’s Inferno depicts envy to be one of the most unforgivable sins that a person can commit. It is heavily depicted to be connected to pride, and this is evident based on Dante’s organization of Hell. The envious and the prideful people are both punished in the same circle of Hell. This circle is cold and dirty. I believe that Dante created this as an allusion to depict the space/detachment from God and his love. In a way the author viewed envy as dangerous, unchristian like. This would explain why the envious are suffering in freezing water. In a way it’s like the realm furthest away from God and his love.
What causes people to be envious? The feeling that makes you want something that someone else has because you think that they don’t deserve it, or that you feel inferior. When we as humans get envious we try to ruin the person’s life, career, etc. because we feel that they are not worthy. But you are feeling envious because you are feeling inferior and not worthy. Envy destroys a lot of self worth in people, because seeing someone succeed or do better than you when you think that you are good makes you feel worthless and down about yourself. Sometimes your envy doesn’t actually come from you, it may start with your parents or the people you are living with. Being raised in an environment like that is hard to not believe that it is okay to envy others, because you were raised thinking it was okay. A lot of the time someone who is feeling envious blames God for feeling inferior or for someone else being better than you or being better at something.
According to Rachel DeYoung envy arises from pride. Humans are naturally prideful and none of us like feeling inferior to others, instead we all want to feel superior whether we want to admit it or not. In Rachel DeYoung’s book Glittering Vices she talks about how the way to get rid of envy is to fight it with zeal. A person with zeal knows that God loves them, and they look at themselves with honesty and the desire to be better. On page 57 of DeYoung’s book she says “With it, we can freely imitate others who are our betters, appreciating but also striving to better ourselves.’ In this quote she is talking about zeal. You have to have some amount of zeal to be able to compliment people instead of envying them because you think that they are better than you. Complimenting people on things doesn’t always mean that you feel like they are better than you are. We can all work on having more zeal because way to many people forget about it and that’s when envy will come and take over. There are a lot of things that come out of envying someone, in class we learned about envy’s daughter vices. The daughter vices are: gossip, detraction/slander, hatred, schadenfreude, and sorrow over the others continuing goods. We all struggle/ have struggled with one of these daughter vices sometime in our life. It is hard to not get caught up in gossip that people are spreading because we all enjoy hearing gossip about someone else’s life.
Growing up I was put in the foster care at the age of 3 and I wasn’t adopted until the age of 13. I transferred from to home for 10 years and I was bullied. I struggled a lot with envy growing up. Everyone always had what I didn’t and the big thing for me was that they had a forever home and I didn’t. I was bullied going to school because I didn’t have a real family and everyone thought there was something wrong with me because no one wanted me. I struggled with keeping friends as a kid because envy ruins friendships. I was jealous/envious of all the friends I had because they always had the best toys, and the best parents that got them whatever they wanted and my foster parents never did that. The homes I was put in didn’t care about me and they gave me all the leftover stuff that they didn’t want or that their kids got tired of. Since I had so much envy in me I felt like the only way to fix my problem was to ruin what they had because if I couldn’t have it neither could they. To be fair they ruin the things I had first and treated me like trash so I grew to hate them and I didn’t care what happened to their things. Especially at the age I was envy was a very consuming part of my life until I found a family that actually wanted me even though I was full of a bunch of different problems and feelings.
Envy also caused me to be wrathful as a kid because when I didn’t get what I wanted I would act out and sometimes in a violent form. The older I got the less I struggled with envy, but it was still there. The older I got the more I understood the feeling of envy and what it was capable of. I found out that gossip can ruin people’s lives, I went through a phase were I wanted to ruin the person I was envious of life. I heard rumors about this person and I spread them in hopes that people would also end up hating them, but then I grew up and figured out that ruining peoples lives was not making me feel better and neither was envy. I grew out of it and felt guilty for the things that I said and did. To this day I still struggle with not hating the people that have wronged me in my life, and I guess you could say in some form its because of my past.
Envy is a life ruining sin. It’s easy to say out loud that we are not envious, but most people are and hate to admit it. Envy destroys happiness. Those who have good self-esteem, have respect for themselves, integrity for themselves, and are happy for others success are not consumed with envy. Yes sometimes they can feel envious about wanting something that someone else has but they don’t let it affect their happiness. We are typically envious of those who are most like ourselves, but the key is to be happy with your own success and how your life is going and not let those who are doing better than you consume you with envy.