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MANO-A-MANO - Adel Tamano -

Of all the seven deadly sins including lust, gluttony, pride, greed, sloth and wrath jealousy is  the toughest to deal with. I have often wondered why Mr. X who is notoriously corrupt and intellectually deficient is blessed with political success and is consistently elected into public office. Or why is lawyer Y who has no hesitation in violating the legal profession’s code of ethics always getting the most lucrative clients? Similarly, how come the true character of Mr. Z, as two-faced, scheming and amoral, is so at odds with the perception of the majority of the public that he is a great leader and a man of integrity?

Part of why I have such a beef with jealousy is that, as shown by Messieurs X,Y and Z, jealousy or the feeling that these persons do not deserve such good fortune is founded, in part, upon a desire for fairness. There is that human element in all of us, when we see the undeserving achieve the pinnacle of success that makes us question the justice of it all. In Tagalog, inggit, or the sense of outrage and the desire for part of another person’s success, actually seems rational and just.

But it isn’t. Jealousy or envy is neither just nor logical because inherently it is a selfish and emotional sin. Selfish in the sense that a jealous person’s self-worth is predicated on the success or failure of others. It is a sin predicated on self-centeredness. This is why jealousy is such a dangerous vice because it ultimately eats into a person’s core, destroying or perverting his self-esteem and making his sense of self-worth dependent on others. The jealous person is the one who cannot enjoy or revel in another’s success. Aquinas defines him as a person who experiences sorrow at another’s good fortune. He is the person who is constantly critical of others, stingy with praise, and enjoys destroying the reputation of others. In fact, the gossip or rumormonger is simply a jealous person because, whether the rumor is true or not, the actual purpose of spreading it is to undermine the character of others and, thus, raise the status of the gossiper.

Additionally, since the object of jealousy is to hurt others, it cannot be truly based on any conception of justice.

Another reason why jealousy is such a dangerous sin is because it is the gateway drug to all the other sins. All the other vices begin with the seed of envy. Why shouldn’t I accept bribes when Commissioner A gets millions a month from smugglers? Why shouldn’t I have mistresses when politician B has a dozen of them? Why should I work so hard when Lawyer C, in my office, hardly works but gets the same salary as me? Thus, the sins of greed, lust, and sloth are born out of envy. The insidiousness and apparent rationality of jealousy are the reasons why it is the ultimate and most dangerous vice of all.

However, the real source of jealousy is not anything rational or logical but rather is predicated upon the irrational belief that one does not have value or worth. According to Jennifer James, “Jealousy is simply and clearly the fear that you do not have value. Jealousy scans for evidence to prove the point that others will be preferred and rewarded more than you. There is only one alternative : self-value. If you cannot love yourself, you will not believe that you are loved. You will always think it’s a mistake or luck. Take your eyes off others and turn the scanner within. Find the seeds of your jealousy, clear the old voices and experiences. Put all the energy into building your personal and emotional security.”

Let us be clear, however, that jealousy is not an easy demon to slay. Overcoming envy is not as simple as deciding to love one’s self. After a while, envy itself becomes a crutch and even a comfort that is difficult to discard. Because of envy, we can excuse our own failures by cursing the undeserved success of others. Envy provides an escape from the painful task of self-awareness: We might not like what we see.

However, it is only when we can truly accept ourselves, including our weaknesses, irrationalities, mistakes, and all our human imperfections, that we can overcome envy. This is not an easy task. It will take real courage and effort to do this but once it is done and you become the self-aware and confident person that you deserve to be, ironically, this is when you will be the object of envy.

COMMISSIONER A

ENVY

IN TAGALOG

JEALOUSY

JENNIFER JAMES

LAWYER C

OTHERS

PERSON

SELF

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