To more clearly understand the cause of this problem, let us return to the Garden of Eden. Satan fell from the heavenly realms because he envied God. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were unable to commit regular sins of passion because their preternatural gifts gave their souls complete control over their bodies and their souls always cooperated with grace. They were in a similar condition as was Lucifer prior to his fall. In other words, Satan realized that the only temptation to which Adam and Eve would be able to succumb was the one to which he succumbed—envy. The temptation had to do, not with the fruit that God forbade them to eat, but the alleged outcome of eating the fruit—”for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5).
Let’s break this down. Firstly, notice how the devil is pointing out that God is not being “fair” because he is withholding something from them, a secret that he carefully guards by the prohibition of eating of that particular tree. God’s prohibition is meant to “keep them down” so that He can be the boss. If they stumble on the secret, God will now have competition; Adam and Eve will be like God. (This is Satan’s very desire and the very name of St. Michael opposing Satan, “Who is like God?”) So God is not being fair, and eating the fruit will produce an equality of outcome—divinity. By disobeying God, their envious motive, and their failure to repent immediately (remember Adam blamed God: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me the fruit . . . .” Eve blamed the serpent: “The serpent beguiled me . . . .” [Gen 3:12-13]), they wound up trashing the whole world and everyone in it.
None of this means that we should not try to better ourselves. But this should be done by our own work and prudence. In business school I learned that we should be always learning. In any profession, getting more and more certifications aids the business by making the employee more and more qualified, and it helps the individual to become more marketable. What we may not do is to get ahead at the expense of others, or because we envy them. We have to close our ears to the rampant charges that we are constantly getting ripped off by those who are more successful than we. This is not to say that at times we do get ripped off. We quite properly call these people criminals. But we can never accuse all or even most successful people of doing this. Many things, especially in politics, are rackets, but this is no excuse for your failures. We must always examine our consciences and ask, “Have I done all I could to help myself and my family?” In my case, one college at which I taught paid so little that during one summer I got a job at an asphalt plant, working in tremendous heat, because we had four children and had a hard time paying the bills. I never said I am “entitled” to have a free summer because of my credentials.
The envy card plays right into the Marxist card game. Marx taught that everyone had class consciousness, meaning that if you were born in a certain socioeconomic strata, you could not transcend the mentality that came with it. This led to an implacable hatred between the wealthy and the poor that only the exploitation of the rich by the poor could remedy. When the violent takeover of society by the down-and-outs took place in the revolution, the job of those who ran the state, the proletariat, would be to expropriate the wealth of those who had, eliminating private property and reducing everyone to the same class. This would lead to perfect harmony. But note that the core of this whole way of thinking is envy. Marx held that the wealthy became so by ripping off the poor. There was no way out of this trap. This was what the wealthy do, and the poor live in hopelessness unless something is done.
There is an interesting wrinkle here. For Marx, a violent overthrow of the rich and their lackeys in the government is necessary. But a companion of his saw this a little differently. Ferdinand Lasalle, also a German (hard to believe with that name), agreed with Marx right up to the point of believing that the state was an enemy of the poor and a tool of the rich. Lasalle believed that the way to institute communism is to impose it through the state. Hardly anyone knows about Lasalle, but who won the argument, Marx or Lasalle? Think about it. American progressives are really socialists with a new name. They believe that the government is the vehicle of rescuing the poor from the evil rich. But to do so, they need the cooperation of the lower classes. But how do you get this, since the poor in the West live better than the poor in the rest of the world? You do it by stoking envy; by telling the lower classes that they are poor, whether they feel it or not, and blame their poverty, or even the fact that they are not as well off as certain business executives, on exploitation of the them by the rich. It’s a great vote-getter from those who have no idea how wealth is created or the basis of the payment of wages, which is productivity. Even talk about the “American dream” is founded on envy. Yes, it is true that this a country of unbelievable opportunity, but success requires hard work, knowledge, some cleverness, and the rejection of seeing oneself as a victim. And, no, not just anyone can be president!
Basically, success requires virtue. But today even the mention of virtue is met with ridicule. People are not allowed to see the results of their actions because those who did not do as well might be offended. Pressure is put on those in authority to be dishonest with those who do not work well, or who do not study well. Many people believe that they should get paid just for showing up, or students believe they should get an “A” just for attendance. Even criminals do not experience the punishment for their crimes for years after they have committed them.
For those who do not see the relationship between morality and politics, this scenario should change their mind. The 10 Commandments are there for a reason, and it is not merely personal sanctification. All morality impacts society and politics.