I came across the following tweet the other day, commenting on the predictable GOP reaction to Elizabeth Warren’s ambitious “free college/student loan debt forgiveness” proposal:
“I have come to realize that there are two types of people in the world: those who say, ‘I had to suffer through this, so you people should, too,’ and those who say, ‘I had to suffer through this, so I want to make it better for those who come after me.'”
Man does this resonate.
The “suffering builds character” crowd will conjure up endless reasons to justify their opinions, but it’s all a sleight of hand routine to cover up their primary emotion: envy.
As always, there’s nothing new under the sun. Let’s look at Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20: 1-16):
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
You know who else probably felt slighted? Older Polio survivors watching younger people receive the newly-available vaccine. Or victims of discrimination that had their lives or careers sidelined, only to watch the barriers start to fall for the next generation. This is progress, and something to be celebrated.
Being human means feeling hurt, or sometimes vehemently disagreeing with the decisions of others. You may not approve of how your tax dollars are being spent by those in charge, but pause for a moment to reflect on your motivation. Don’t keep yourself afloat by forcing the heads of others underwater in your pool of envy.