Being against evil doesn’t make you good. Tonight I was against it and then I was evil myself. I could feel it coming just like a tide… I just want to destroy them. But when you start taking pleasure in it you are awfully close to the thing you’re fighting. –Islands in the Stream (started in 1950 but published in 1970) Ernest Hemingway
I have spent the last few days engaged as a delegate at a national union conference. There has been a lot of discussion on the support necessary for those in need. Austerity has eroded the livlihood, and life choices of many. Child poverty in the UK is an unfortunate reality despite the wealth of the nation and that the nation’s richest individuals have grown even wealthier during the Covid crisis. Fairness was a recurring theme in discussions, as CEO pay goes up, and yet more working people have slipped into poverty. Women’s and minority rights were also focused on. It is time for those in majority, or at least in influence, to step up for those who are voiceless, or at least stiffled. Abuse and harassment of women and girls should be called out by men not just “feminist” women. Racism – “institutional” and “systemic” also should be challenged by those of privilege.
These modern sounding “liberal” principles are, however, in fact biblical. Proverbs 31: 8-9 calls for us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
The scriptures are clear that we with a voice have not just an opportunity, but a duty to defend and speak for those without voice. When we see injustice we need to call it out. This isn’t just “political,” but day to day real life in its nature. “Locker room talk,” race sensitive jokes, and any other form of diminishing the human dignity of anyone should be stood up against.
At Sychar’s well, respect and a kindness done
To the Samaritan woman under midday sun
And to the Syrophoenician, Jesus gave “crumbs”
Human dignity clearly won
The poor may be with us to the end
The Apostles to them the Jerusalem Seven they did send
Fandango’s provocative question is: “Is jealousy purely a negative and potentially destructive emotion, or does jealousy have any value as a motivator to drive people to improve themselves?” This really comes down to semantics and what we mean by jealousy. If by the term you mean a possessiveness of things, and especially of people – then it is a destructive thing. To be jealous of one’s partner presupposes “ownership.” Trust and partnership should ideally be the foundations of a relationship, not control.
This does not mean we aren’t hurt if said loved one goes elsewhere for affection, but that is their choice. The third party, however, did not “steal” your love interest. So in that way, Fandango’s “motivator” point may come into play. We should be the best us – if we want to be in a relationship with the best them. But again, this is not ownership, it is making oneself desirable, not the controlling a partner’s life.
If on the other hand by jealousy we mean covetousness or envy, then it still has negative connotations as it can distort our values. To begrudge others possessions (here we are speaking of material things, not people) or position then we are being unfair as they too have aspirations and needs. If we desire another’s attainments and do so without real effort to achieve our own, then it is wrong. While many things in life are finite: gold, etc. They are still abundant enough to be sought after. So in this way Fandango’s “motivator” still comes into play. But empty “envy” which “wants,” but does not seek to achieve; that wishes misfortune on others for our own satisfaction or ends – this is wrong.
By the way, honour and accomplishment are not finite. There is enough honour to go around for those who are honourable.
All in all, wanting to gain something is a motivating force, but it should never be done with malice or at the expense of another.
Fidelity – “faithfulness,” is to many a concept that fits into nice little pigeon holes. You remain faithful to your spouse, and never stray sexually. You are faithful to your country, though paying taxes can be a little flexible. You’re are faithful to the truth, well unless a “little lie” might serve some greater purpose.
There are those, however, for whom fidelity is not an abstract. It is, in fact, a creed. Such loyalty is a matter of character, an indwelling integrity that is sometimes hard for others to ascertain in themselves. How can someone be cold and wet, and be deprived of sleep, that others might sleep snuggly? How can a person lay down their own life for people they have never met?
The answer is simple – fidelity. In fact, “Semper Fidelis,” the state of being always faithful is what sets some apart.