Envy and jealousy are close in meaning, but there is a difference. Envy implies wanting something possessed by another. In the extreme, envy becomes coveting, which is forbidden by the Ten Commandments because it can lead to stealing what belongs to another.
On the other hand, jealousy implies resentment that he possesses it. If my neighbor has a new Lexus, I may wish I had one, too. That’s envy. But if I “key” his car, that’s jealousy.
After 9/11 many people asked, “Why do they hate us?” Various reasons were proposed, some good, some bad. But jealousy is one obvious reason. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and some other Muslim nations sit on enormous oil reserves. They dominate the oil cartel. These nations should be rich, well educated, healthy, and free.
So why aren’t they? Causes include corrupt rulers, inefficient economic systems, and religious fanaticism. But to face these facts would be painful. It would require people to ask what we do that makes us successful, and what they do that makes them unsuccessful. Facing unpleasant facts requires intellectual honesty and courage. It’s much easier to blame “the others” for your problems.
If these people envied our success, they would emulate what makes us successful. Instead, many people – and not only in the Middle East – are jealous of our wealth and our freedom. But they don’t want to go to the trouble of achieving their own – they want to destroy ours. If we became as poor, oppressed, and unhappy as they are, they wouldn’t have to be jealous of us.
Jealously leads to tearing down one’s rival. The result is a net loss of wealth and freedom in the world, but an increase in equality – everyone is equally miserable. Churchill described socialism as the equal distribution of misery. But we’re talking about backward dictatorships and theocracies, not “advanced” socialist ideas. Or are we?
If you’re masochistic, read Bin Laden’s tirades. Read the rants of many Muslim clerics. Yes, they condemn our self-indulgence, women’s rights, and religious freedom. But some of their bitterest criticism is reserved for our economic system. If you didn’t know the source, you might think the criticism came from Marxists, “occupy” activists, and radical environmentalists.
The terrorists are portrayed as religious fanatics. But if you strip away the religious veneer, what remains bears a close resemblance to leftist ideology. If the 9/11 terrorists were purely religious fanatics, why didn’t they destroy St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and the National Cathedral in Washington, not to mention a synagogue?
Instead they attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth plane, which was forced down by heroic passengers, was said to be aimed at the Capitol. Religious fanatics may be secondarily concerned with economic, military, and political issues. But if their primary concerns are economic, military, and political, in what sense are they religious fanatics and not secular ones?
What you hate says a lot about you:
● In Iraq they bombed an oil pipeline to prevent the nation from benefiting from oil income.
● In Iraq they bombed UN offices to block relief work. They murdered Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Chris Klein-Beckman, representative of the UN Children’s Fund. They saw these humanitarians as enemies.
● In Lebanon they attacked professors to prevent them from giving an education.
● In Afghanistan they attacked schoolgirls to prevent them from getting an education.
● In Egypt they attacked tourist buses to deprive Egyptians of income from tourism.
They try to block all attempts to relieve poverty by technology or education. If you put a turban on Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, he’d fit right in with Al Qaeda. He already had a scruffy beard.
Our enemies don’t envy us. They don’t seek to emulate our prosperity and open lifestyle. They use our advanced technology, but they hate the freedom that produced it. They hate our economic and military power – it blocks them from achieving their dream of world domination.
Rather, they’re jealous of us. They seek to destroy our prosperity, freedom, and open lifestyle – so their poverty, oppression, and backwardness won’t look bad by comparison. They seek to distribute the misery equally. In this, they are much more disciples of Marx than of Muhammad, regardless of what they claim so stridently.
Obviously, the suicide bombers and airplane crashers are religious fanatics. But those who direct them reveal Marxist leanings. Leftism hasn’t infiltrated only churches and synagogues – it also infiltrated mosques. But the effect was different. Leftism weakened Christianity and Judaism by separating them from their biblical roots. But paradoxically, leftism strengthened Islam. And why not? They both have contempt for individual freedom. They both advocate central control of society. They both aspire to world domination.
So we get the worst of both worlds: religion without a heart, and politics without a brain.
The America haters try to tear down the prosperity and freedom we enjoy, because they don’t believe they could do the same. The first step is to build people’s self-confidence and help them see that they too can enjoy prosperity and freedom. That’s why it’s so important that we succeed in helping them establish a system that guarantees political, economic, and religious freedom. No, I did not say “democracy.” As our Founders knew, a pure democracy can easily become a tyranny of the majority.
This was true here; it is even more true in the Muslim world. In Iraq, the Shia majority will oppress the Sunni minority, which formerly oppressed them. The Kurdish and Christian minorities will fare ever worse than before. In Egypt, the Muslim majority will oppress the Christian minority even worse than before. The last thing these nations need is pure democracy. They need constitutions that ensure political, economic, and religious freedom for everyone.
At present, this seems an impossible dream. But if we don’t keep trying, we will never know if it really is impossible. In the unlikely event that it does work, we will have gone a long way towards ensuring peace in the world.
We helped people overthrow secular dictators in Iraq, Egypt, and Libya. But thus far, things are even worse. Religious extremists with Marxist tendencies run through the streets, attacking American interests and persecuting their own minorities. We owe it to these minorities, and to the majority as well, to continue advocating political, economic, and religious freedom – and even more important, to continue serving as an example of these freedoms.
It will do no one any good if we give lip service to these freedoms, while curtailing them in our own nation. It will do no one any good if we spout pleasant platitudes, while encouraging class hatred in our own nation. If all the talk about the “99%” and the “1%” isn’t meant to provoke jealousy, what, exactly, is its purpose?
We may not be able to reduce the level of jealousy in the world. But we can encourage the development of political and economic systems that make it harder for people to take out their jealousies on their neighbors. At the very least, we can stop inciting more jealousy among our own people in order to gain votes. Those who sow the wind of jealousy should not be surprised when they – and all of us – reap the whirlwind of social disruption, national decline, and international disorder.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.