Worth Protecting

It’s amazing how television can occasionally provide insightful snippets of information. And I’m not just talking about the news. I’m talking about T.V. shows, some of which are considered the most inane forms of entertainment. Now let us move on from my introductory grab for your attention and get back to musing, eh?

I was watching The Simpsons the other day, when Homer Simpson, possibly the largest ignoramus in television history, is discussing Apu’s good fortune with Lisa, his precocious and spiky-haired daughter. At Homer’s griping, Lisa replies, “Dad, you shouldn’t be jealous of Apu.”

Homer then promptly responds, “I’m not jealous. I’m envious. Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have. Envy is wanting what someone else has.”

Lisa later confirms her father’s surprising linguistic insight by checking the dictionary. While I chuckled at Homer’s uncharacteristic literary prowess, I was also taken aback at the immense difference between the intrinsic meanings of the words.

Let us go back to Homer’s wise words: “Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have. Envy is wanting what someone else has.” Thinking on this definition, the most striking difference between jealousy and envy appears to be either the possession or lack of a highly desirable object or person of value.

Jealousy occurs when you already possess a wonderful object or person and fear that some heinous intruder will steal it away from you. The most common example of this, of course, is in love. In countless television shows, movies, books, and songs, the protagonist fears that his significant other will run off with another more attractive or charming individual, ultimately leaving him enraged and shattered. This fear subsequently triggers feelings of panic, resentment, and jealousy. Thus, in this example, the protagonist experiences jealousy because he fears that something he already has, the affections of his lover, will be tragically taken away by some outsider.

In contrast, an individual experiences envy when he greatly covets an object or person that belongs to another. Take for instance, the plight of man who envies his next-door neighbor’s Mercedes Benz, personal golf course, frequent business trips, and overall financial success. Alas, our poor protagonist is green with envy because he himself possesses none of these items. While it would be ideal to inform him that happiness is not necessarily the result of luxurious products and social status, that is not the point of this example. The point is to illustrate the fundamental difference between jealousy and envy.

Thinking back on my analysis, I think I’d much rather be jealous rather than envious. If I were jealous, that would mean I had possessed something or someone great enough to furiously defend or keep for myself. I would already be in a better position because I would already have something worth of awe, wonder, and envy of others. On the other hand, if I were envious, my feelings would be generated from a distinct lack of a desirable object or person. Hence, if my desire was strong enough, I could possibly be driven mad from the impossibility of its attainment.

In essence, while I strongly discourage prolonged feelings of either jealousy or envy, I would much rather you be jealous than the latter. Because having something valuable enough to inspire envy in others is indubitably worth protecting.


6 thoughts on “Worth Protecting

  1. Envy green is a colour that never looked good on anyone.

    Interesting read I had never really thought of it like that and I confess I might have even used the words interchangeably (atrocious)

    reminds of something….. “Best to have and not need than to need and not have” well not exactly means the same thing and not in those words but if you tilt your head like this it kinda makes sense, yes?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, faces just aren’t suppose to be green in general. Just not an appropriate face color. And yes, that quote most indubitably applies to this discussion. I also like to think it works while packing for extensive trips. As you cram all of your belongings into a suitcase fit to burst, you wonder, “Do I really need sunscreen?” But alas, if you finally do not have the glorious lotion and desperately need it at your final destination, your quote will hauntingly echo in the confines of the skull. Great quote, and thanks for taking the time to read my work!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting analysis and I never really thought deeply about either, but you pointed out notable differences. However, if one is jealous or envious, neither are attractive and I think if a person dwells on those negatives, one might drive their love away if jealous, or, never have one, if envious. I have noticed among Americans, primarily–I have lived among other cultures in other countries—but one thing that seems to strike me about US is that many of us openly express our jealousy. For example, I was visiting with my daughter and her friends, and at different points in their enthusiastic expressions, would say, “I am SO jealous of that girl’s boyfriend!” or “I would die for that body!” (a bit of an oxymoron…if you are dead, a great looking body won’t do one much good!). And then they all giggle and laugh. I, being 65, and they in their 20’s, prompted me to listen to their conversations, more than contribute talking lines. Of course, there we are, five of us having lunch after their checking on their bridal gowns for my daughter’s wedding—and they are ALL on their cell phones—and still carrying on conversations with all at the table. I was the only person NOT on a cell, as I refuse to be a part of that subculture…in any case, as I reflect on what they shared at the table, everyone seemed to want more than they had, and no one seemed too satisfied with what they had, and it seemed, everyone, including my daughter, were NOT really present—always living in the next moment on their cells. Now, the question arises, am I jealous or envious of their way of communication, or in a state of bewilderment?!! You write with such clarity and logic! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with your point that the expression of jealousy is widely accepted and openly expressed in the United States. Perhaps it is seen as somewhat flattering whenever someone greatly desires something that you possess (that being a good-looking boyfriend or a fantastic body). I’m not really sure how that works out, but it seems to be the case. As for the tendency for adolescents to become completely absorbed in their little screens, I experience it all the time with my friends! While they’re all scrolling away before me, I refuse to take my cell phone out of my pocket. After all, I can browse the Internet when I’m alone and have nothing better to do. I believe you’re neither jealous nor envious of my generation’s obsession with cell phones, but rightfully disgruntled. Whatever happened to the times when we talked face-to-face (and no I’m not referring to Skype)? Thank you so much for taking the time to read my work. It really means a lot.


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