From Ting and I: A Memoir
Greed has justifiably fallen into some disrepute. Envy, on the other hand, seems to be in ascendance.
Greed can be an incentive, impelling you to produce more or exchange more in order to get more, and thus greed can have its socially beneficial aspects, however unattractive a personality trait. When it escalates to theft, we have a criminal problem.
Envy seems likely only to make you want to take away from another what you wish you had for yourself. Not productive. Not nice at all. When it escalates to theft, we have a criminal problem.
The envious assume they know the truth about the lives of those they envy. Often, they are quite mistaken. The poet Edwin Arlington Robinson described the fortunate Richard Cory, but noted
… we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Corey, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
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