My ongoing, ad hoc, and rather scientifically dubious researches into Catholicism turn up the Seven Deadly Sins, those evils that lead us away from a state of 'charity' (surprisingly similar to the Buddhist 'compassion') and into other sins, venal or mortal.
Anyone who saw Se7en will know that the Seven Deadly Sins are envy, greed, lust, pride, wrath, sloth and gluttony, and this week, I've been thinking a lot about envy. I've come to the conclusion that envy is different from jealousy in that jealousy requires three people - the loved, the beloved and the enamoured gooseberry - whereas envy requires only two - the envied and the envious. Envy doesn't seem to be born of any kind of love (even love of oneself is missing here), but of comparing ourselves to others: the young professional envies his colleague his car, the neighbour envies the next-door's way with marrows, the put-upon envies another's freedom, the poor envy the rich, the old and ugly envy those who are younger and more attractive, those without children envy those with, and those with children envy those without. The saint envies the sinner and the sinner envies the saint. Envy differs from all the other Deadly Sins in that it has no pleasure in it - even wrath has the pleasure of release - but envy only destroys. As the anonymous saying goes (roughly) 'the envious poison their own banquet and then eat it'.
Of course, many these days would say that envy is not a sin in that it generates the desire for all those consumer goods on which the world turns, and I recall someone once saying that without envy, democracy would collapse. Certainly, without envy, the network of amateur spies that kept the gulags full would not have existed.
Plenty of pithy one-liners can be found on the subject of envy, but here's one that sums up the View from Carmine Superiore...
William Penn (1644-1718), the founder of Pennsylvania:
"The [envious] are troublesome to others ... but a torment to themselves."
I guess old Willie would have had some trouble with the troublesome, given that he was basically an estate agent who somehow ended up the "absolute proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania, and I think he nailed it when he pointed out that envy is more self-destructive than destructive of others.
Oh yes, and why is envy green-eyed? Because, as so often, Shakespeare said so!