Arguably the worst evil committed in the world stems from the dual emotions of envy/jealousy. The tens of millions of people who died under Communism during the 20th century did so at the hands of people who largely were motivated by envy against the rich or at least against those better off than them. That same emotion in large part brought about the murder of millions of Jews under National Socialism, as they typically were wealthier (thanks to their emphasis on education).
At the individual level as well, terrible crimes have been committed based on envy/jealousy. For example, particularly in Asian countries, there are instances of women throwing acid on other women’s faces in order to erase their physical beauty.
The Virginia Tech shooter in 2007 was motivated in part by envy. His so-called multimedia manifesto was laden with expressions of hatred for the rich. “Among the materials was a DVD with 27 QuickTime video files, totaling about 10 minutes, showing Cho talking directly to the camera. He does not name anyone specifically, but he mentions ‘hedonism’ and Christianity, and he talks at length about his hatred of the wealthy,” according to an MSNBC article.
Envy/jealousy is an incredibly powerful emotion and explains a lot of evil in this world. It could help explain one of the most evil actions of recent times, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot to death 20 mostly first graders along with many of their teachers and administrators. According to FoxNews, “Two law enforcement sources said they believed Nancy Lanza had been volunteering with kindergartners at the school. Most of Lanza’s victims were first graders sources believe Nancy Lanza may have worked with last year….Adam Lanza believed she cared more for the children than she did for him….”
If the report is accurate, then it appears Adam Lanza thought his mom loved him less than she loved the kids, prompting him to kill them.
That’s what jealousy does. That’s what envy does. That deadliest of the seven deadly sins gets nowhere near the media attention it deserves. There should be a national discussion on the evil that results from envy, in an effort to try to tamp down on some of the emotions that drive people to do terrible deeds.