"Jealousy is both reasonable and belongs to reasonable men, while envy is base and belongs to the base, for the one makes himself get good things by jealousy, while the other does not allow his neihbour to have them through envy", observed Aristotle, the Father of Philosophy. 

Have you ever wondered what we are about? We are about acknowledging our Inner Being, within ourselves... in all its Glory. Our base instincts; once a person has acknowledged this, he/she would be capable of achieving higher goals and achievements in Life. This article aims to illustrate various instances where Envy can arise, how it can arise, and the different faces of itself. "Why Envy?" you may ask. Envy is the basest of all emotions. Once we can identify it, spot it, and eradicate or master it, our lives would be enriched.

Envy, in its traditional sense, is one of the 7 Deadly Sins. Its definitions (before the 7 deadly sins were compiled, there were 8) comprises the sins Sadness and Vain Glory.

According to Wikiquotes, Envy is defined as an "emotion that occurs when a person lacks another's superior quality, achievement, or possessions and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it." Envy has to have the element of Sadness in it. A contrast has to be drawn with the word Jealousy. Jealousy is also Envy. It, however, has the element of hatred; a hatred towards another for having a certain quality, achievement, or possession. Envy, on the other hand, does not have that hatred element. Bertrand Russsel in his 'The Conquest of Happiness' stated that Envy is one of the causes of unhappiness. In feeling Envy, one would know no joy, until the demise of the victim whom the person is envious of. Demise. Such as strong word, isn't it? If Envy is uncontrolled or unacknowledged, it can destroy. As Oliver Stone put it succinctly, "Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that." At the end of the day, it is all a matter of semantics.

In this world and age, one can witness Envy in many forms: Between colleagues, in boy-girl relationships, within families, between or amonf friends and even amongst children! The ugly face of Envy is evident in all our lives.

Envy among friends is one of the most common forms of Envy. As Aeschylus in Agamemnon, a tragical play, stated, " It is the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered." This is an ordinary situation. One may say that Aeschylus had confused mere Jealousy with Envy. This is debatable. Have you ever felt deep disappointment over something or someone that you cannot get? Such a deep feeling of Sadness and loss? That is more than mere Jealousy. It is called Envy. We have all experienced Disappointment in our lives. But what is it that drives some individuals to wish ill on the successful others? It is Envy. Therefore, acknowledging this emotion is crucial. Disappointment is inevitable in Life. A disappointed person is an envious person, they say.

The question arises then if Envy among friends can bring about a positive effect. If, for instance, friend A, envies the fact that friend B has a car in his possession, a question arises: Can that be a driving factor in making friend A to get a new car himself? This can be in the form of saving up. If done this way the rewards are plenty. Not only has friend A enriched himself with a car, but he also is enriched by the many qualities he derives from his hard work. For example, Patience and Integrity. If, however, Envy drives friend A to ruin friend B's car, then Envy has done its sinister job in ruining both their lives. Envy, here can be seen to be a very strong emotion. It can Create and it can Destroy. It may be what that drives the world to succeed or lead the world to its own destruction and demise. This monetary example is a good illustration as there is a saying that goes, "Money makes the world go round". Money is a universal language. Envy in monetary matters between friends have caused many relationships to turn sour.

Where does Envy come from, you might ask. Jean Vanier, a Canadian Catholic philosopher, once speculated: "Envy comes from people's ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts."

It is clearly observed that the darkest emotion called Envy lies dormant in each and every one of us. The great Xun Zi, a Chinese Confucian philosopher, reaffirmed this when he said: "A person is born with feelings of envy and hate. If he gives way to them, they will lead him to violence and crime, and any sense of loyalty and good faith will be abandoned." The key lies in mastering our emotions, our basest emotions.

Envy is also known to be the common factor in all of Mankind: "Envy lies between beings equal in nature, though unequal in circumstance," said Jeremy Collier, an English theatre critic, non-juror bishop and theologian. How people handle Envy is a different matter altogether. It lies equal in its envious nature. What we choose to make of it is unequal. A friend having a new car is one of the many instances for envy to bloom. 

A new, beautiful girlfriend is another. Envy among men as opposed to envy among women should be called to attention here.

Women react differently. A "cat fight" would ensue, as they loosely call it. Women bickering over the most trivial issues. A new boyfrind who is a high-flyer. Or a friend making a new friend. Or a friend winning the lottery, resulting in that woman friend spending all the money through clubbing or shopping, influenced by the envious friend.

Envy has been the result of ruined relationships. It has brought people to their knees, developing low self-esteem all because of the "Evil Eye" cast upon an individual. Envy has been the basis of many superstitions. There is a part in every religion to ward off the Evil Eye. Envy causes our basest instinct to reveal its hideous face. 

Envy has led to selfishness as well. If one feels envious over the smallest things, good-will is lost. That individual will not want to take up voluntary acts, or donate to charities, for example. Helping someone in need would also be preceded by the question, "What will I get?" This leads to a narrow viewpoint from an envious individual. As Josh Billings, a 19th century American humorist, said, " Love looks through a telescope; envy through a microscope." A person will beocme self-obsessed and become very narrow-minded if Envy is not controlled. Through selfishness lies our very own demise. "Envy eats nothing, but its own heart.", a German proverb preaches.

However, Envy can be a good form of check and balance. If person A has a windfall of let's say a million dollars, person B will feel slightly suspicious. This form of Envy is positive. When used to check how and where person A got such a huge amount. This can be seen when William Hazlitt, an English writer, said, "Envy among other ingredients has a mixture of the love of justice in it. We are more angry at undeserved than at deserved fortune."

How do we eradicate this emotion, then? As mentioned above, Josh Billings said the answer lies in Love. If we choose to Love ratehr than give in to the emotion called Envy, we would become masters of controlling our basest emotion.

My point is that Envy can have a positive as well as negative effect. To eradicate Envy would be an uphill task, but one that is attainable; one that is something that can be countered with Love. To want to continually improve and "show off" is an essential part of Human Nature. It is one of those qualities that makes humans, Humans. 

As Christopher Hitchens said in 'God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything', "In particular, it is absurd to hope to banish envy of other people's possessions or fortunes, if only because the spirit of envy can lead to emulation and ambition and have positive consequences."

Envy, lastly, is the driving force in this world. Its original definition should be kept in mind when distinguishing it from all other emotions. 

Envy = Sadness + Vain Glory. This is a simple equation of what Envy comprises. The desire to show-off as well as deep Sadness. Like a mathematical formula, we shoould be masters in adding and subtracting what is good and bad from our lives. 

Fire is a good servant but a bad master. Likewise, Jealousy or Envy can be a good servant but a bad master if uncontrolled in the Experience we call Life.

Sources & Inspirations: