Sunday, January 25, 2015

Most of our posts are centered around fashion and jewelry, but sometimes other subjects take the front.  There is much discussion in our country right now about "fairness."  This story provides an interesting opportunity for meditation and discussion.

I heard an example of how destructive Envy can be.  It goes like this:

Once upon a time, two men opened competing shoe shops right across the street from each other.  Each man was so envious of the other that they spent their days sitting outside their shops to watch customers entering the store opposite.  If one saw a customer entering the shop of the other, he was so eaten up with envy that he could not see or think of anything else.

And so these two men continued, year after year, envying each other and failing to realize their own accomplishments, because they obviously had accomplishments – they were both still in business.

One day, a woman entered one of the stores and told the owner that she would grant him one wish.  He could wish for anything – long life, good health, great wealth – anything at all.  The only condition was that whatever he wished for would be doubled for his rival.  So if he wished for long life, the other shoe store owner would life twice as long.  If he wished for great wealth, his “rival” would receive twice as much. 

The man thought long and hard, and after much calculation, told the woman that he wished to lose one eye.

How blind are we, when we look at our neighbor and envy what he or she has?  How distant are we from enjoying life, if we want others to lose what they have, what they may have worked hard for, or even been lucky enough to have received?  How far away are we from this man if we are even urging the government to take from others and redistribute it so we get a “fair share,” not of opportunity, but of outcome?  How many of us are willing to give up one eye, just so our neighbor is blinded?

No, I am not suggesting we leave the poor to fend for themselves.  We must, as a country, provide opportunities for all, and a true safety net for those who cannot take advantage of those opportunities.  But, no matter how “unfair” it may seem that some have great mansions, fancy clothes, luxury cars, and all the trappings of wealth, taking that away, by force or even by law, will not make anyone better off in the long run, as a study of history and economics will show.