I was listening to my daughter talk about a time in her early teens when she was extremely jealous over a boy she liked. That feeling became destructive and cost her two friends.
Jealousy is back, not in her own life but in her friend’s. She is dealing with it differently too. Her friend became jealous of her. Her answer to him in part was to state her own boundaries regarding jealousy. She said to him, “If I do such and such it makes you feel jealous. If you did such and such I would not feel jealous.” Well, at least they are talking about it.
I asked her, “What is the purpose of jealousy? Why do we at times feel jealous? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Why did God give us or allow us to have feelings of jealousy? Is jealousy something we want to keep in our relationships or something we want to keep out of our relationships?”
I then began to explain a point that came to my mind after the reading of chapter 1 of the Abolition of Man. Is a thing good because you ascribe value to it or is a thing good because in and of itself it is good?
The first part of this book is a discussion around two people’s perception of a waterfall. One says it is pretty and the other says it is sublime. A third person is bothered by this difference of opinion. All this led me to formulate my question regarding the true nature of goodness; is beauty in the eye of the beholder or does it exist on its own? A simpler way to think about this might be to state the question in an opposite fashion like this: Is a thing evil because I don’t like it or can a thing be evil in and of itself?
I proceeded to say to my daughter that if beauty or goodness or evil exists on its own than there is something outside of ourselves, something even outside of our relationships, something beyond us that we would do well to long for if it is good and despise if it were evil. And isn’t it because of this good beyond ourselves that jealousy finds its proper place in our lives? Jealousy is a powerful feeling at times and can be mishandled, but the proper role of it is to empower us or to help us preserve the good, the very good we desire in another when we say we love them.
Those are my thoughts. What are your thoughts regarding the questions I’ve asked? I’d like to hear what they are.