I’ve envied a lot of people over the years. Still do. Apparently that makes me a sinner, a deadly one at that, yet here I sit typing drivel still. I find it odd that we include envy in the seven deadly sins. Along with greed and gluttony, envy is a cornerstone of the very capitalist economy we slothfully defend with such pride and even wrath from behind our computer screens between lustful viewings of pornography.
It’s worth noting that envy wasn’t even on the original sin list. In fact, there originally was eight and they only came to be seven when Pope Gregory 1 combined tristitia and acedia, vanagloria and superbia, and added envy in 590 AD. I should have known it would be the Catholics that’d demonize one of my favourite past times. They did the same with one of my others too!
I wouldn’t say envy has consumed my thoughts but I’ve certainly spent an inordinate amount of time wishing I was like other people. So many folks I’ve known or met over the years have personality traits I jealously covet. There are those with confidence in everything they do. They seemingly have no fear to do or try almost anything. Indecision and dread are brushed aside with quick flick of their confident hands. Failure is but a floor upon which to renew their climb.
Then there are those whose charm attracts friends and mates like a fly strip inside a barn. Without any effort they are immediately liked and desired, admired and followed. They’re always smooth and witty, enjoyed by men and women alike, the life of every party, and the focus of every meeting. They can talk to anyone, never stumbling for words or enduring awkward moments of silence. And they never suffer the lonely indignity of worrying away the hours wondering what others think of them.
I’ve had more than a few occasions of sighing jealousy towards those who’ve savoured carnal pleasures at multiple theme parks. Be it one night stands or great love affairs, neither has been my strong suit. Getting it right once feels more luck than skill, or reward. Hey, I’m not saying I wish I’d been a man-whore, but a few more lusts requited would have been nice.
These thoughts have been my constant companion for as long as I can remember. Even in childhood I remember looking on in wonder at those with these traits and resenting them so. Maybe it is a sin to feel this way. It’s hardly noble, I’ll grant you that. It’s rather a waste of time obsessing over things you can never change, not easily anyway, and certainly not about others. And as I recently discovered, it’s all horribly misguided.
Awhile back I read Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer. It’s a terrific book and I strongly recommend you read it if you like hard science fiction or even just enjoy a good thought-provoking story. It sure provoked thought in me. It also provoked realization; a troubling, unnerving realization. I envy psychopaths!
Those traits I’ve long envied? They are all, in some fashion, part of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a scientifically created assessment tool used to determine the presence of psychopathy in criminals and at high security psychiatric units. Sawyer’s book delves into psychopathy for its plot and several times refers to the HPC. All serial killers are psychopaths but not all psychopaths are serial killers. Psychopaths can be highly functioning members of society, from business people to doctors. They’re not necessarily bad people but they are most definitely different than the most of us.
And apparently I’ve wanted to be one my whole life. Talk about needing to reassess my desires. Yeesh!
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