“Rhian had built his whole army on feelings like this. Feelings of people who thought because Tedros was born handsome and rich and a prince, he deserved to fall. To suffer.”
– from A Crystal of Time
The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani
One of the deadliest and most nefarious sins of all is Envy.
As one of the main characters of Chainani’s School for Good and Evil series, Tedros, son of King Arthur, is never what one might call, “perfect.” He has been greatly adored in the past, for being so handsome, rich, and the heir to Camelot, but he has never actually been perfect. He’s made mistakes, some of them quite serious. He’s been tricked, duped, and betrayed. He’s been stubborn, hotheaded, and foolish. He has failed many times and been slow to learn from his mistakes. Oh, yes, he is indeed most severaly flawed.
But none of that is why people want him to fail.
No, there are vast multitudes of people who know absolutely nothing of Tedros himself, of his struggles, his hopes, or his pains, who want to see him fall. Not because they have any sort of grudge against him, personally. It’s just because of the circumstances of his birth. They hate him because of something over which he had no control.
Now, we often see, in our stories, the sort of vain, boastful, stupid character who holds themselves up and pushes others down based on such circumstances. Almost universally, these people learn the error of their ways the hard way. Those who are born “above” have no right to judge those who are born “below.”
But there’s a flip side to it: those who are born “lower” have no right to judge those who are born “higher.” At least, not because of how they were born.
Even more pointedly: no one has any right to judge another based only on what they have.
Money, social class, possessions, opportunities… these are not the things by which you can judge a person. And that holds true whether it’s a rich person looking at a poor man, or a poor man looking at a rich one.
That person at the “top” does not deserve to fail, fall, and suffer just because of where they are. Neither does the person at the “bottom.”
To judge others so harshly, to want them to fall and fail, to hope that they lose what they have, not because of anything they did but because of what they have, that is nothing but pride, greed, and envy.
How people forget – oh, how they forget! – how little separates the rich and the poor.
They forget that this other person is, in fact, a person! A person with their own problems, their own failures, their own dreams, losses, and pains, and their own rights!
They forget what blessings they have in their life, instead casting blame for their problems on the heads of those who had nothing to do with such!
They forget that mere sums of money will not solve every problem.
They forget that this person who happens to be better off in some way is still just a person, no better or worse, no more deserving of pain, and no more capable of avoiding it.
In short, they get jealous and forget to love their neighbor.
And that is a crying shame.