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Envy: Vice or Virtue?

            Regina Barreca's "Envy" grabbed my attention as she illustrated the ways envy manifests itself. As a Christian fairly new in my beliefs, I found myself questioning whether or not envy is purely evil in nature, and wondered if it were possible for envy to be beneficial. Barreca claims to, "owe a great deal to envy" (15) explaining that it motivated her to have greater ambitions and reach for goals that may have never been realized. If not for envying a former classmates success as a writer she may have never become a writer herself. Barreca demonstrates how envy resides in all of us.
             Barreca raised my awareness of how much envy has been a part of my life recently. For some time now, I thought myself jealous of my son's father's advantage of being recently married with a brand new $180,000 home. It was given to him as a wedding gift and he didn't have to lift a finger. Barreca makes me see that it was not jealousy I was feeling, but envy, as she explains the subtle difference between the two. .
             According to Barreca, jealousy desires what another person has, envy wants to have better, "the mistress and the wife share exactly the same desire for precisely the same man" (9). But envy wants more, "The man who is envious of his neighbor's job, in contrast, probably does not want to steal that job away but instead wants to get a better one" (10). I relate to the envy side of this comparison, as I have thought to myself several times that when I acquire my Nursing degree I will have a bigger better home and I will have earned it myself, no one will have given it to me. .
             Barreca offered me some insight and I can see these principles in other areas of my life. The pastor of my church preached a sermon about envy several months ago and pointed out the destructiveness of envying other people. "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones" Proverbs 14:30. Barreca shows how envy cultivates itself as it thrives to compare.

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