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Friday, December 6, 2019

ENVY







You must allow everyone the right to exist in accordance with the character he has, whatever it turns out to be: and all you should strive to do is to make use of this character in such a way as its kind of nature permits, rather than to hope for any alteration in it, or to condemn it offhand for what it is. This is the true sense of the maxim - Live and let live … To become indignant at (people’s) conduct is as foolish as to be angry with a stone because it rolls into your path. And with many people, the wisest thing you can do is to resolve to make use of those whom you cannot alter.
                                                                          - Arthur Schopenhauer 


I wanted to write on the new developments at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), but I later decided to preface it by something that could be extrapolated from the piece - envy. 

“Avoid envy,” said the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, “for envy devours good deeds just as fire devours firewood.” 

In his book, MasteryRobert Green discusses envy as one of “The Seven Deadly Realities”. According to him we are all envious of others by constantly comparing ourselves to them “- in terms of money, looks, coolness, intelligence, popularity, or any number of categories. If we are upset that someone we know is more successful than we are, we will naturally experience some envy, but often we will fine a way to minimize  it because it is an unpleasant emotion. We tell ourselves that the success of another person is a matter of luck or came through their connections, or that it won’t last. But for some people, it goes much deeper than this, usually because of the level of their insecurities. Seething with envy, the only way to discharge it is to find a way to obstruct or sabotage the person who elicited the emotion. If they take such action they will never say it is because of envy but will find some other, more socially acceptable excuse. They often won’t even admit their envy to themselves. This makes it a quality very hard to recognize in people. There are, however, a few indications you can look for. People who praise you too much or who become overtly friendly in the first stages of knowing you are often envious and are getting closer in order to hurt you. You should be vary of such behavior. Also, if you detect an unusual level of insecurity in a person, he or she will certainly be more prone to envy.

“In general, however, envy is very difficult to discern, and the most prudent course of action is to make sure your own behavior does not inadvertently trigger it. If you have a gift for a certain skill, you should make a point of occasionally displaying some weakness in another area, avoiding the great danger of appearing too perfect, too talented. If you are dealing with insecure types, you can display great interest in their work and even turn to them for advice. You must be careful not to boast of any success, and if necessary, to ascribe it to just good luck on your part. It is always wise to occasionally reveal your own insecurities, which will humanize you in other people’s eyes. Self-deprecating humor will work wonders as well. You must be particularly careful to never make people feel stupid in your presence. Intelligence is the most sensitive trigger point for envy. In general, it is by standing out too much that you will spark this ugly emotion, and so it is best to maintain a nonthreatening exterior and to blend in well with the group, at least until you are so successful it no longer matters.” 


The quoted position of Robert Green here is just a summary of what he stated while expounding a law in his other book, The 48 Laws of Power. For those conversant with the system adopted by Robert in that book, he will start with the JUDGMENT which contains the law, to be followed by TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW, where anecdotes and allegories will be given of people in times gone by who did not obey the law and how they eventually got their just deserts. He will also discuss, in a similar fashion, under OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW, people who obeyed the law and who got ample payment in like manner. But in all this, Robert will make an exception, which he calls REVERSAL, in the observance of certain laws of power when disobedience of a law under discussion serves some people better than adherence to it. 

In The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Green, discussing envy, sets the law by admonishing his readers: “Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weakness. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable…” 

According to Robert, only a minority can succeed in the game of life, and that minority inevitably arouses the envy of those around them. “Once success happens your way, however, the people to fear the most are those in your own circle, the friends and acquaintances you have left behind. Feeling of inferiority gnaw at them; the thought of your success only heightens their feelings of stagnation. Envy, which the philosopher Kierkegaard calls “unhappy admiration,” take hold. You may not see it but you will feel it someday - unless, that is, you learn strategies of deflection, little sacrifices to the gods of success. Either dampen your brilliance occasionally, purposefully revealing a defect, weakness, or anxiety or attributing your success to luck; or simply find yourself new friends. Never underestimate the power of envy.” 

However, Robert believes that some people have attained to a certain level of success that they become immune to the evil plans of the envious. He stated under REVERSAL that: “The reason for being careful with the envious is that they are so indirect, and will find innumerable ways to undermine you. But treading carefully around them will often only make their envy worse. They sense that you are being cautious, and it registers as yet another sign of your superiority. That is you must act before envy takes root.

“Once envy is there, however, whether through your fault or not, it is sometimes best to affect the opposite approach: Display the utmost disdain for those who envy you. Instead of hiding your perfection, make it obvious. Make every new triumph an opportunity to make the envious squirm. Your good fortune and power become their living hell. If you attain a position of unimpeachable power, their envy will have no effect on you, and you will have the best revenge of all. They are trapped in envy while you are free in your power.”