“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.” William Penn
This is a Choral Ethics Blog post repeat from several years ago. I need to slow down and plotting out the rest of the summer now seems like a smart idea. I try to be here, one way or another, every week because I know many of you look forward to this blog and I don’t want to disappoint you. Hope you’ll enjoy one of our Oldies but Goodies!
In preparation for writing the blog post today, I looked up the definitions of envy and jealousy. I wanted to know what the differences are just so I was absolutely clear in my own mind. Simply put, envy is coveting something someone else has and jealousy is the fear of being replaced, either in a professional or a love/affection situation. There is certainly overlap of the two emotions, but jealousy can be the more destructive of the two I believe.
I have often thought envy can be healthy. If you envy something or someone, perhaps it will motivate you to achieve beyond what you have. There is usually no mean-spiritedness in this type of envy just a desire to better, or change, our circumstance. I can envy my friend’s shoe collection (and I’ve made a good start to keep up with her, let me tell you!) and not be nasty about it. My friend with young children can envy me with adult children and know someday it will be her not driving carpool twice a day. You can envy your brother-in-law’s ability to run a marathon and he can envy your non-receding hairline but there is no nastiness about his running (you would have to get up at 5 am every day) or your hair (genetics are genetics) between the two of you.
It would be nice for things to “just” happen but more times than not, those whom we envy have worked for what they have or have some special, difficult to replicate, circumstance. In the choral and music world, if we practice, we get better and if we don’t, we don’t. Some folks don’t understand this, they think they are “owed” a solo just because they’ve been in your choir forever or think they can tell you who SHOULD get a solo because they’ve been in your choir, well, forever. And all Heck breaks lose when they realize they can’t.
Deidra*contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me about a problem she’s been having with her a member of her church choir. One of her “Queen Bees” has decided she is the person who gets to decide who gets a solo and who does not. QB has been in this church choir “since Adam” and has (in the QB’s opinion) the best solo quality voice. Deidra has organized the choir year so there are soloists during the summer from the whole church, even those who don’t regularly sing in the choir (with the hopes they’ll join them or sing with the choir more often). QB thinks that’s outrageous, even though many of the Summer Singers are children of the church, home from college. QB has even gone to the Pastor who has deferred to Deidra; it’s her job, she should make the decisions.
Before the unpleasantness with QB began, Deidra thought reaching out to others in the church would be a good thing. She tries so hard to be fair with her choir but wanted to reach out to others; what’s wrong with that? She has a sign-up sheet for summer solos in the choir room beginning in mid-May so the Senior Choir would have first crack at the dates. Beginning in June, she opens it up to the rest of the church and encouraged former members of her children and youth choirs to sign up. She asked those signing up to also arrange for coaching with her so they could decide, together, what they would sing and practice together.
QB worries the “quality” of the choir and music program will be compromised because of the “outsiders” being allowed to sing. It’s silly because many of the young people are products of their very fine music program. She’s so miffed, this summer QB declined to sign up for a solo and has been noticeably absent from Sunday services. Since the Pastor isn’t too concerned with QB’s whereabouts, neither is Deidra. It’s been quite peaceful!