We all fall victim to the green-eyed monster. It has plagued mankind since the beginning of time. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the first reference the green-eyed monster dates back hundreds of years to Shakespeare’s Othello.
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock. The meat it feeds on.
As I am not a geneticist or a psychologist, I won’t go so far as to say that the human race is genetically predisposed to ‘keep up with the Joneses;’ however, I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone that was immune to jealousy. Most times, being envious of a friend, family member, or co-worker is nothing to fret. We all do it…my wife gets jealous when her friends post pictures of recent vacations on Facebook, my brother is envious of his friends that don’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for college, and you were probably jealous of the guy driving the new Cadillac ELR that pulled up next to you at the red light this morning on your way to work.
Several years back, I made the conscious decision to put my career ahead of my education. (Needless to say, it’s remarkable how long you can stretch out college only taking six hours a semester.) At the time, it seemed like a great decision–especially while all my friends were poor college students. Now they’ve all graduated, have excellent jobs, and are starting the next stages of their life. I’ve been with the same company for almost eight years now and I’m still (slowly) working on finishing my degree at The University of Memphis. It’s as if I was laps ahead of my friends, but now they’ve caught up and are starting to pass me–I’m not going to lie, I’m jealous.
Furthermore, as I read articles like the one recently written by Alex–Why We Love Ole Miss–I feel regret that I didn’t get the “college experience.” Trust me, the online degree program is all sorts of fun…NOT.
Over the years I’ve worked on keeping the green-eyed monster at bay. I’m generally a frugal person, so possessions don’t really do it for me. I value less tangible–for lack of a better word–opportunities. By opportunities, I mean connections and experiences. To me, nothing is more awesome than having a connection–whether it be with a company or individual.
But I digress…
I am ashamed to admit that I was exceptionally juvenile with my jealously the other day. For a brief, brief moment, I was jealous of a homeless man. I know; I’m not proud of it.
I was entering the Sam Cooper Boulevard freeway and, as I was yielding to oncoming traffic, I saw a man out of the corner of my eye. He was disheveled in appearance; moreover, he was holding a sign which read, “Will Work for Food.”
Before we go any further with this story, it is important that I explain my mindset on this particular day. Six months ago, my wife earned her Bachelor’s degree from The University of Memphis and started her new job–this means that this month was our first month paying on her student loans. It is quite a burden, and has weighed heavy on my mind.
As I passed by him, I thought to myself, “I’d switch places with him in a heartbeat. I’d give anything to wipe clean mine and my wife’s student loans.”
In that moment, I wished for nothing more than to start with zero money in checking and savings, owning nothing more than the shirt on my back. I thought, “I’d willingly do this to erase the gargantuan amount of student loan debt that I am responsible for repaying.”
Upon arriving home, protected from the elements, with food on the table, I immediately felt guilty. The pang of remorse has plagued me for the last several days.
It was compounded more when I saw this recent viral video about the poor. The following video was created with the intent of stirring up feelings–and it did its job. The reactions from the people in the video show that people, as a whole, do care about mankind. More so, in a perfect world, they want to end poverty–just not at their own expense. (The following video does contain strong language.)
After seeing this, I wanted to look more into homelessness in Memphis. I stumbled onto a great organization, Community Alliance for the Homeless. I was pleased to see the recent News Release that stated “it’s the second consecutive year homelessness has been reduced throughout Shelby County.” Furthermore:
Homelessness in Shelby County is down 21% overall since 2012. Even greater reductions were found in family homelessness, which fell 30%, and chronic homelessness, (those who have been living on the streets or in shelters for more than a year,) which fell by 39%.
While this news is great news, there is still much to be done. I highly recommend that those interested in helping combat homelessness check out Community Alliance for the Homeless. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t try to do more before my guilt and jealously forced me into caring.