Can a footman in former times, or a scullery maid while scrubbing the floors, experience envy when class structures forbade any hope of advancing beyond? In days before of rigid demarcations of social and class differentiations, where terms in modernity like “upward mobility” or “moving up the ladder” (have you ever wondered at the condescending connotation of such terms, where “up” is the direction of the movement, as if one were ascending to the heavens, even when such barometric activity often corresponded to moral degradation and sacrifice of one’s character?) were unheard of, was there an inner intimation of envy between watchful eyes by servants who observed the plenitude of decadence and obscene abundance of wasteful riches?
We can, of course, comprehend such sensations of jealousy and comparative desires in our times, for there is no inherent cultural device firmly implanted within the normative constraints, anymore. As stories abound of the proverbial “rags-to-riches” narratives; and whether by intensive efforts of self-will and do-good stories, or of Wall Street wolves clawing and cheating, or even of the occasional lottery winner who accidentally wandered into a corner mart and took a chance with a last dollar, the conceptual animation within the realm of possibilities exists as to changing one’s circumstances, and with that comes the concomitant feeling or awareness of comparative lack.
But can such a sensation exist in a universe, both in the material realm as well as in the cognitive recesses of one’s imagination and creative thought processes, if one has not a concurrent concept of the possibility, or even the minimal probability, of hoping for an expectation of change? If there is such hope, how then can there be envy, unless nature allows for an emotion of pure futility where hopelessness can incentivize a pathway towards an unfulfilled nothingness?
Nature is purposive; the teleological sense within us requires that instinctive sensations inherently existent follow the rule of Ockham’s razor, and refuse to allow for futility’s baseless conduct of entrance to nothingness. Now, one might argue, as Rousseau did, that evils created by society’s influence beyond man’s natural innocence while in the state of nature, engendered by malevolent devices surfacing as appendages upon convoluted addendums not otherwise found except in complex civilized settings, go counter to such arguments; and, certainly, just as H.G. Wells and all dystopian writers since, and others such as Jules Verne possessed imaginations beyond the societal constraints imposed upon the creative mind, and so one might still be able to project such negative feelings without hope or expectations.
Again, however, it would be one based upon a deep chasm of futile exchanges. That is the question and concern that the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker must contend with, when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position. Can the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker project into the future, a life without the chosen career to keep one occupied, and still remain happy?
Envy is the killjoy of distracted minds, and hope is the antecedent nectar that allows for poverty and discontent to continue. For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, however, it may not be a question of envy without hope; rather, it is often just a pragmatic choice compelled by circumstances of chronic and debilitating medical conditions, and the hope resides in the promise that a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, will be approved and allow for the Federal or Postal employee to focus upon the priority of a future not without hope – that of regaining one’s health, stamina and capacity to regain one’s equilibrium.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire