What is wrong with jealousy? In American culture, it has a negative connotation, but why?
In our culture, people are motivated for success. One of the biggest markers of success is capital. The United States’ economic system is CAPITALism. Capitalism is a system designed for private owners to generate a profit. To generate a personal profit is a need in our society, but ambitions and desires are drivers for an even greater amount of wealth – which is synonymous with economic success.
Financial rewards are not the only drive for personal success. There are also awards. There are many awards that honor individuals for their success in any field of labor. In many cases, the awards will have YOUR name on it and will have a ceremony to honor YOU in front of a convocation.
Think of the economy as a pie. If we had a community of four people, and wanted to divide everything equally, we would cut the pie twice, leaving four equal pieces. However, if one person worked harder, many people would agree that individual should receive more pie. However, what if they didn’t work harder? What if they were just better equipped for the job?
To illustrate a point, I am going to focus on attraction. There are people who are better looking, funnier, richer, etc. In many cases, it has nothing to do with how hard they worked. They could be born with great looks, or into a rich family. We all desire a mate, and want to be desired by a mate. If we lose the affection of that mate to someone else – who happened to be born with their features – we can feel rejected. To be resentful of someone who took away a strong desire of yours – without any effort – seems justified.
Jealousy is Reasonable
A definition of Jealous is hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage. If that advantage is taking away from something you desired, and is seen as unfair, then jealousy seems like a reasonable result. Why are we not allowed to be hostile toward a rival – that we feel was given an unfair advantage – enjoying their gift. They do not feel bad for us or feel the need to share. Why are we required to be accepting or not have any negative feelings for having an unfulfilled desire?