Don’t write about sin if you don’t want to become aware of your own shortsightedness.
When I wrote about sloth I fell asleep a lot. When I wrote about wrath, I had to forgive all the people I’d been holding stuff against. I won’t tell you what happened when I wrote about lust.
I believe we all have our own BS or besetting sin.
This is our default weakness. It’s the one we descend into when times are rough, and often when they’re not. Envy is mine. I’m not saying I never experience the other negative personality traits. I am saying envy is the one that trips me up the most often.
Envy is punished in Dante’s Divine Comedy by stitching up the eyes of the envious.
In the Middle Ages envy was associated with witchcraft and curses. It comes from the Latin “invidia” which means to look on someone with hostility. All this is wonderful fodder for a story about murder, but not so wonderful for life.
What the professionals say:
According to studies done at Texas Christian University, envy increases memory and cognitive function. A good thing? Apparently not. The only thing the subjects were sharper about were the objects of their envy.
Some argue envy is positive because it challenges us to reach higher and be better. But another in the same group of studies showed that envy decreased subjects’ abilities to complete an unrelated, challenging mental task. This was blamed on something psychologists call “ego depletion.”
Ego depletion is the idea that we only have so much self-control to go around. If we expend a lot of energy fighting the nasty emotions associated with envy, we won’t have as much persistence with other things.
Not only that, but envy is a downer.
It engenders feelings of depression, hostility, and painful inferiority. These emotions have an impact on both our physical and physiological health. Have you ever tried to accomplish anything constructive when you were feeling inferior or depressed?
Lest you think envy is somehow a higher emotion and, at least, proves our intelligence, apes and monkeys can be envious. One poor man lost his nose, his foot, and a testicle all because he brought a birthday cake to a chimp and the other chimps got jealous. Unfettered envy is violent.
Hope you’ll join me for this romp down the dark alley of envy.
But read at your own risk! The Color of Envy is the darkest sin yet.