For some reason the other day I found myself pondering the sin of envy. I’m not really big on thinking about sins but the more I thought about it the more convinced I became that envy might just be the worst of the batch. When I think of the acts that envy has caused individuals and societies to commit, it reinforces this perception. I suppose none of the seven deadly sins are especially pleasant, sloth, gluttony, pride, and wrath don’t seem to wreak the havoc that greed, lust, and envy do. To me, greed and lust seem to be different shades of envy. We become greedy because we envy what others have and we don’t. Lust, although often sexual in nature, is also a sin triggered by what we see others have and we envy and lust for their possessions or relationship. In fact in many situations we use lust almost interchangeably with envy.
I also think envy has grown more predominant in our society lately. As television, social media and a 24-hour news cycle makes the world a smaller place, we are also more aware of what we don’t have in our own lives. Beginning with shows such as Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous and continuing with such media darlings as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, we are continually exposed to lives which can most likely never achieve ourselves. At the same time we realize that these people are not better than us. This may result in feelings of envy because we find it difficult to accept that they deserve what they have and that we deserve to have more. Instead of being satisfied with our lives and what we have, we grow envious. We lust for what we see others have and become greedy to have more “things” in our own lives.
The term consumer society is often tossed around to describe our current society. It is predicated on the need to generate envy, lust and greed. We won’t buy new things if we don’t feel these emotions driving us to do it. How many of us must have the latest, greatest thing? Every time a new iPhone is released, people line up, sometimes for days, to be sure they’re among the chosen few to be blessed with this latest technological innovation. I can count the people I watched get rid of televisions that worked fine in order to acquire the latest in flat screen technology. People update their computers for no other reasons than a new model is available. Many people no long own cars, they lease them and upgrade them every two years.
It’s as though we’ve been primed and programmed to be dissatisfied with our lives. We’re told the only way to heal this dissatisfaction is to buy new things. We let envy, greed & lust push us to spend more than we can afford in pursuit of an illusory goal. I am as guilty of this kind of behavior as anyone else but my envy, greed and lust are focused more on books and Tarot decks. I see images of other Tarot reader’s decks and am suddenly filled with lust to own a copy for myself. Then once I get it, I rarely work with it. The lust, greed and envy overwhelm me and once they’ve been satiated, I no longer have an interest in the object of desire.
Much of this reminds me of The Devil card. We are chained, trapped and imprisoned by envy. We allow our greed and lust to control our behaviors and then try to project them on an external source. We keep reaffirming our addiction by falling into the same pattern of conspicuous consumption and consumerism.
In an effort to kill this particular devil and break free of these chains, I’ve decided to change my pattern. I’m going to commit to making September a no purchase month. Instead of purchasing anything new during the month of September, I am going to “shop my closet”. I’m going to look over what I already own – books, Tarot decks, clothing and actually put them to use. Rather than add to the mess of my already cluttered life, I’m going to start paring back. I’m going to review my possessions and either use it or prune it. I’ve had books in my collection for 15 years and I haven’t read them yet. If that’s the case then I have to assume I’ll never read it. If a Tarot deck does not ignite a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart, then it needs to be released to find a new home. Clothes that no long fit or were never really “me” will be given or thrown away. Once I get rid of the extraneous things that envy, greed and lust convinced me to buy, I can get to the core of who I truly am and what I really want to do with my life. Somehow I doubt buying more stuff will aid this process at all.