Jealousy is a pervasive feeling that strikes most of us, perhaps all of us at sometime or other in our lives. It’s a discomforting pressure in ourselves that arises as a selfish desire – wishing for ourselves the fortunes of someone else; a longing that says, why not me? Some of us live with this pervasive malaise – that guises as something as necessary to us as the clothes we wear -- day in and day out. We are jealous when our peer is promoted to a better job at the office; wins a competition, scores more in class, gets the pretty girl or that cute guy, gets a new car, or house, and the list can go on.
While we continue to experience these emotions, few of us reflect on why we have these, or where it comes from. To some of us, that feeling of envy or jealousy may be something we want to carry with us always; something if we give up, we feel we may be losing a part of us. Or we are just not aware of this feeling being of any consequence for example of being detrimental – to our physical, social and spiritual wellbeing. That pain body has become an integral part of our very make up like an organ or a limb. That is the deception that our ego plants in us.
But this jealousy is the source of our discontentment in our society which manifests as conflict and turmoil. It is the ego fanning the selfishness in us to induce our feeling of envy that engulfs our behavior – at home, at the workplace, or on the street. It is always the manifestation of “why should someone else have what I don’t have” syndrome. This acquired sense of inequality in our minds – fair or not – is the goad that pushes us against brother, family, and friends.
Have you also not wondered why we feel jealous mostly of our peers rather than of more distant people or those much older or younger than us? The ego knows how to fiddle with the switches in our being, to push us towards rationality too, so that we don’t question it. Competition can only be with peers. We don’t compete with the old or with the kids, for it is never a challenge. Our ego grows when we can win in situations that can make our pride bloat. Usain Bolt will not be thrilled to win competing with high school sprinters!
So we can come down to two critical aspects of our being that are the culprits generating our jealousy -- our greed and our competiveness. Our modernization and economic development is predicated on these two characteristics. How ironical! Just the two very things that fuel social disruption and conflict being lauded as that which will bring us progress in this modern world. Our schools teach this, our families practice it, and our society welcomes it. We just accept this as an inevitability of modernization – a global phenomenon in which we seem inextricably mired in.
When the true decadence of greed and competiveness is realized through self awareness, they will cease to be important. As antidotes we have in our reach the noble behaviors of sharing, tolerance, and forgiveness, if only we care to reach out to these by scrapping the will of the ego and practice them. We have the choice – to bring peace into our midst!