Envy is the sin that “looks with grudging hatred upon other men’s gifts and good fortune, taking every opportunity to run them down or deprive them of their happiness. (Dorothy Sayers Purgatory, Notes on Canto XIII)
It is an impoverished soul who seeks to deprive others of their happiness. It’s bad enough that any soul would want to diminish others. The end result should bring them pleasure, but it rarely does.
The soul’s poverty can be so deep that it cannot be filled, at least not from outside sources. They take from others but with no positive returns, the result is a net negative. And that is what I appreciated about your post. First, envy is poisonous and second, it is fed by people’s “twisted opinion of themselves”.
I know sin isn’t everyone’s thing, but I went back to Dante’s work because envy is among the seven cardinal sins. I believe we have lost sight of just how poisonous it is. It took me a long time to understand that much of what others say in conversation is actually a reflection of what they’re saying to themselves. And so much of what a person sees of another is distorted by their image of themselves.
You wrote of the triad of Envy : Insecurity : Defensiveness. There was podcast on This American Life recently that brought this into astonishing focus for me. A female comic was being asked about the comments posted by trolls on her site. The producer found the person posting some of the worst comments. There is a brilliant section where the troll is being interviewed and asked about his motivations. And it all came back to his self-hatred. He was chastened when he realized what he was doing.
I could go on further about this, but it’s the second half of the post that I’m especially drawn to. I think you move off the subject of envy and on to something even more important, and that is shining our own light. I’m going to interpret very loosely here and say it’s about courage.
The courage to try not knowing if you’ll succeed. No, that’s not it. It’s the courage to try, without even having a measure of what success might be. To not even take an accounting of success or failure.
I’ve spent hours in the Picasso Museum (Picasso fascinates me), which has an exhaustive collection of his works. Much of what’s hanging on the walls is awful. But when you walk through and study all his work, you can see how each phase of his art built on the phases before and how he extended himself from an expert representational artist to the crazy, wonderful artist he became by exploring step-by-step without fear and certainly without giving a damn what anyone thought of what he produced.
May I suggest that you consider reposting the second half of this piece focusing on shining our own lights without being distracted by “two dimensional tokens of achievement.” I, like you, “want to thrive in a world of talented, bright shining stars.” For creativity to thrive there is no failure, just trials along the path of discovery. And each trial is a stepping-stone to the next thing to try, to the next idea.