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Why the Other Guy's Grass?

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The greatest human achievements are often accomplished by a special strain of people, the destined few, who are never satisfied, who push for eminence, but are benign.  However there is another strain of people whom are never satisfied, and are malevolent.  These people are often responsible for human tragedies, people who are inherently selfish and greedy.  They feel no remorse at manipulating and defrauding the innocent and often oblivious people around them, just to gain that extra luxury which makes them feel superior to those around them.  Though not everyone who is greedy or selfish has such a profound impact as the deceivers and con artists.  However, it is a serious problem that no one is ever satisfied with their "side of the fence."  We all live without seeing the importance of the simpler things.  Instead we live striving to buy that next game, that next shirt, that next car, without ever wondering why people around the world can live perfectly happy in poverty.  Evidence of the fact that our society is guilty of greed and selfishness is the fact that it is a commonplace maxim that "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" but rarely will a person be able to identify "An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit" as being once uttered by Pliny the Younger.  Today, so many people are not content with their own possessions simply because the majority of people are artificial, and perhaps all believe that surrounding themselves with luxuries will make other (artificial) people perceive them as part of this distinguished (and deluded) class.  Through the repetition of "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence" we are simply reinforcing this creed of greed and selfishness. 

Even prior to the proclamation of the ten commandments, jealousy has been prevalent in human societies.  Ancient farming villages were plagued by, one shepard jealous for another's flock, one farmer jealous of another's farm, one man for another's wife.  From this jealousy for items that cannot be acquired, sprung crime, the shepard stole, the farmer burned, and the man raped.  These crimes tore apart the ancient village and left it divided, prey to its neighbors or the wilderness.  Many years later, from the perpetuation of the jealousy in mankind, the phrase "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" was born.  The phrase has been preserved in human society because jealousy is bred in humans to the point in which is appears almost innate.    It describes a common setting in modern times, two houses next to  each other, in a middle class neighborhood, separated by a fence.  One family is trivially more profluent than their unsatisfied neighbors, and a new car or addition for the former family instills a feeling of jealousy and resentment in the latter family.  However the phrase is universal, and can be applied to a full range of human situations, an envious lover, a rival intellect, a dejected athlete.  These situations permeate throughout the lives of the majority of the population.  They corrupt and stain the image of human society.  "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence" has been eternalized because it is symbol of one aspect of the horribly deplorable human condition.

Cases of the destruction deriving from human jealousy have pervaded human history, from the dawn of record keeping, past the advent of modern communications. This jealousy was recognized by the Bible writers of ancient times in a multitude of proverbs.  Most significant is the fault that they recognize in every human being, the fault of jealousy.  Jealousy allegedly injected into Eve by the malicious Devil (the symbol for human evil, a whole another essay) which caused Eve to thieve the apple from God, causing humanity to be expelled from the garden of paradise, forcing upon humanity the "Original Sin" which still today, is a stain on every human child.  This in itself is significant, because according to the beliefs of those whom follow Christianity, billions of babies, children, and adults, have gone to hell for being marked with the penalty of a single act of jealousy.  Just prior to the height of the Roman Civilization, did not the envious senators organize a murder of the good willed Caesar, marking the beginning of the short climax of the Roman civilization before its decline?  It can be speculated, that under Caesar the Roman Empire would have reached an even more prosperous plateau, bringing a golden age on the great many Romans.  If the terrorists were not lethally jealous of the success of the American, free, society, could the September 11th Tragedy have been avoided?  In history, often great men and women, are given the chance to make a profound influence upon history, in tragic cases, these great people are possessed with lethal jealousy, and they commit crimes against humanity, because they were not satisfied with their "patch of grass."

In the attempts by humans to defeat jealousy, their conquests have often taken radical turns, at conforming society to the jealousy that is near instinctive in human behavior.  The communists and the socialists often made drastic and in the former case, violent attempts to fix a society which contributes little to the problem.  The obstacle that needs to be overcome is not to make her patch of grass identical to his patch of grass, rather, the problem is whether we can make humans consider that whose patch of grass is nicer, is inconsequential.  I think that through proper nurturing, we can suppress and the destructive forms of jealousy.  We need to not remove jealousy entirely, for competition is needed in order to inspire excellence, rather we want children and adults to admire traits such as intelligence and wit, rather than the materialistic attributes that are focused on today.  Earlier I called jealousy a human behavior, because it is not a permanent facet of every human spirit.  Many times there are instances documented of people who were able to live fulfilling lives entirely without material possessions, while retaining integrity.  Through an evolution of the human psyche, that suppresses jealousy, and detaches us from the material and superficial desires that cause jealousy, the phrase “The Grass is always Greener on the other side of the fence,” the phrase that summarizes the prevalence of human jealousy, can be eliminated from society.





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