Sarkozy and Carla Bruni: Beyond jealousy?
Is jealousy bad?
The French first lady Carla Bruni was working on the set for Woody Allen's new movie. Carla and the actor Owen Wilson play the role of a couple in the movie. And, it seems, the two were seen joking, smiling at each other, in an intimate way. French president Nicolas Sarkozy -- Carla Bruni's husband -- was on the set, watching over his wife. When he noticed the tenderness between Carla and owen, he could not stand it anymore. He made a scene of jealousy. Everybody got quite nervous on the set, and apparently the tension was released when Carla gave a very unsexy kiss on Sarkozy's cheek, as if the French president was a big baby to keep quite.
Some could malign that, if the Frech president cannot handle a plebeian feeling such as jealousy, he is unfit to rule a country, given that a president is expected to handle pressures well beyond the triviality of jealousy.
But let's not do politics now. Others, more benevolent commentators could say that Sarkozy did something very sweet, cute, and caring -- a sign that he is a human being, with his emotions and attachments.
What is so wrong and so negative, if anything, about jealousy? And is jealousy such a trivial feeling? I will try to answer the first question in this hub, and leaving the second question for another hub.
Sources of jealousy: ownership and fear
Jealously refers to a strong feeling or need to mark one's own territoriality with respect to something or someone that one already "owns." It is often associated with mistrust, anger, and fear.
We can be jealous of things but also of people around us. When we are jealous we act in ways that assert our authority over the thing or person. Along with the feeling of jealousy, there is a feeling of exclusivity, i.e., the feeling that the object or person over which we assert our authority is only and uniquely ours.
Jealousy with respect to objects and things is already a damaging feeling. When we are jealous of an object, we become obsessed by it. We forget the object's function and we tend to make it absolute. When we become jealous of an object, we do not consider the object as a means that should serve our own ends, but we tend to unduly and unnecessary absolutize it. And whenever we feel that the object could get damaged by the circumstances or the behavior of others, we become nervous, anxious, possessive, and even violent.
But when jealousy is exercised over the dear ones around us things can get even more alarming. There are two negative features from which the feeling of jelousy orginate. One is conceiving of our relation towards a person as a relation of possession or ownership, and hence as a relation that is and should be exclusive. The second feature triggering jealousy is the continuous fear of seeing the ownership relation being broken or simply threatened by the circumstances or by the behavior of other people.
Why jealousy is bad
An exlusive relationship of possession along with a contibuous fear of loosing that possession are the main sources of jealousy. And if this is correct, it is quite clear why jelousy should be avoided as much as possible.
Firstly, our relationships with the people around us cannot and should not be understood in terms of possession, be it shared or exclusive possession. People aren't things nor objects at our disposal. People have freedom. They even have the freedom to walk away from us, without giving us any explanation. Denying and ignoring the abyssal power of freedom that each of us has triggers jealousy. But ignoring that the person in front of us has freedom means ignoring what makes him or her a true human being, so that jealousy derives from a tendency to"objectify" the people we care for and love.
Secondly, jealousy reflects a sense of inadequacy that torments us. We feel we could loose the person we love anytime, in any circumstance, despite the promises that the person gave us. This fear of possibly loosing what we cherish derives from the feeling that we are not good enough for the person we love. This fear could also originate from an excessively negative view of life and human relationships for which people can never be trusted and one should always be on guard and at war to preserve his or her own "human property".
If jealousy comes from a feeling of inadequacy, it revels a problem with our own self-confidence which we should overcome. If, instead, jealousy comes from a pessimistic view of human relations, it is time to realize that this view does not lead anywhere. It only contributes to exarcerbate our fears, anxieties, stress, and obsessions.