OFTEN we heard about the wife getting killed by a jealous husband. Or lovers breaking up because of a third party that made the other jealous of his or her partner. Or a father being hacked by the son because of a jealous rage where he felt he was not given his due share or attention.
In political campaigns, many from the rival camps, or their supporters and ward leaders, are jealous of each other because one candidate is inching his way to the top that made their camp to plan to outsmart the other, using every ploy, fair or unfair, legal or illegal, regardless of who gets hurt.
Jealousy is defined as a “state of mind that arises from the suspicion, apprehension or knowledge of rivalry… or the fear of being supplanted in the affections of, or a distrust of the fidelity of, a beloved person especially a husband, wife or lover. But according to Fr. Joseph A. Galdon, S.J., no dictionary definition can really define what his old friend calls “the desperate cluster of feelings that we have characterized as jealousy.”
Othello murdered Desdemona, who really loved him, because of jealousy. Medea’s jealousy of another woman drove her to murder her own children. Cain killed his brother out of jealousy and ever since then, it seems, we have been destroying each other out of jealousy, according to the Jesuit preacher.
Sigmund Freud said that “jealousy is one of those affective states like grief that may be described as normal.” He explained it was normal because everybody felt it. In fact, Freud felt that people who said they were never jealous were probably deluding themselves, or were repressing their feelings and putting them out of their consciousness. Fr. Galdon’s friend, whom he named as Leo Buscaglia, says that jealousy is certainly a universal feeling. It isn’t sick or pathological until it is acted upon. The feeling of jealousy is normal, but it is what we do with that feeling that causes all the trouble.
Fr. Galdon cautioned that jealousy can be handled in many ways. The most distinctive response is aggression against those who threaten our security or what we think is ours. Another guy talks to another man’s girlfriend at a party and because the guy is jealous and perhaps insecure in her love, the guy invites the other guy to settle things “man to man,” which is more likely to be irrational and turn into “animal to animal.” Even worse, because someone threatens to take his girlfriend, or her husband, or his wife away, he attacks irrationally with threats, lawsuits and violence. All because of jealousy. But some people choose to run away from jealousy. They withdraw. Some enjoy playing the martyr. They suffer in silence, “dying a thousand painful deaths a day.” They feel helpless or wait or pray for things to get better. But the worst response is revenge. He swears that he will get even no matter the cost.
But some people try to drown jealousy in alcohol or in drugs, in wild parties or sex. Fr. Galdon says the solution to jealousy is to look the green-eyed monster (jealousy) in the eye and ask oneself what your jealousy is saying to you. Usually, jealousy is saying two things to us: we’re insecure, and we’re not being very rational. We are insecure because we think someone is going to take someone we love away from us. If we had more confidence in ourselves, we wouldn’t be that insecure.
Secondly, jealousy tells us something about our own stupid irrationality. What good does it do to fight, or to get even? Jealousy, the good father says, is an animal reaction. Many problems get solved when we tame the green-eyed monster with reason. When we learn to control jealousy, we will be much better lovers.