As our nation’s debt crisis has become a central focus of our popular media, the rhetoric of class envy has been escalated to a near fever pitch. Of course this has always been the primary tactic of the political left, beginning most popularly with Marx and continuing rather visibly today in his ideological descendants. The easiest and most consistently reliable way for leftists to maintain and increase their power is to first engender envy of the wealthy, then to convince the general populace that it is not only morally acceptable, but morally right to take wealth from others by sheer might of the popular vote.
Their task really isn’t all that hard. Envy is one of the most common and basic human reactions when we are confronted with someone who has more than we. We’re warned against one variant of envy in the tenth commandment [Exodus 20:17]: “Thou shalt not covet.” (Yet another reason the left dislikes traditional Judeo-Christian values, but I digress.) But envy itself isn’t necessarily bad—like so many of life’s challenges, it depends upon what you make of it.
en-vy, n. painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage (Merriam-Webster)
The critical point in the definition of envy comes in the first three words.
One reaction to seeing others’ success—be it wealth, popularity, physical fitness—is to resent that success. This response yields a desire to level the playing field by diminishing the value of the other. After all, they can’t possibly deserve what they have when I don’t have the same. This is classical leftism at work: the success or failure of the individual is portrayed as largely beyond his own control. It’s a pretty easy sell because it doesn’t require anything of the individual.
The other, healthier, reaction is to be pained by the others’ advantage—not in a manner destructive to self or others, but rather in a way that makes you ask yourself, “What are they doing that I’m not? How should I change myself in order to achieve the same successes?” This path requires the individual to take responsibility for his own success or failure, to stop blaming others for consequences of poor personal decisions, and to take positive action to improve himself rather than tearing down another.
One thing is certain—when you see someone who has something you want but don’t have, you will envy them in some way. The only question is which direction your response will lead you. Will you tear others down or build yourself up? That choice is yours alone.