by Linda Ryan

I have been a fan of the British Royal Family and of the UK in general, since I got hooked on a copy of National Geographic about Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and jewels. Oh, the beauty of those gems! I loved their colors, sparkle, and sheer quantity of them. And to think, she had even more in storage to be picked out and worn for various reasons and occasions! I have never worn a tiara, much less a crown, and I have never been jealous of those who can and do wear them. I am satisfied to look and enjoy, without really minding who is wearing them. 

I thought the tiara Meghan Markle wore on her wedding day was quite lovely. Compared to those of other royal brides, it was not my favorite, or even one of them, but it complimented her style and dress quite handsomely. To find out that there was a spat over whether she could wear the tiara she chose, or not, was disappointing. Suppose someone offered me a selection of very expensive jewels to wear on a significant occasion. But if the one I wanted was not offered, I think it would only be polite to say, “Thank you, I would really like to wear this one.” But, as someone with no chance of that ever happening to me, maybe I can imagine being a bit more gracious about accepting a second or even fourth choice.

I will admit I have been jealous of a lot of people over a lot of things. It was hard not to be jealous of girls whose mothers were alive and close to them, while my adopted mother was sick when I was nine, and died in my early teens. It was hard to wear ballerina shoes with holes in the sole when I saw other girls wearing Bass Weejuns with intact soles. In college, I was still wearing clothes from the eighth grade, while other co-eds got new dresses or outfits just every time they went home for the weekend. Diamonds and tiaras were as far from my vocabulary as today’s commonly-used curse words. Things were not going to  change for me, so I learned to accept what I couldn’t change – most of the time. 

One thing I was never jealous of was my adoptive brother, who was twelve years older. We had a pretty good relationship, although we did have a lot of fraternal spats like kids do. I never had to worry about who had priority. He was the son, I the daughter, and we each had our roles to play.

There are a lot of brotherly spats in the Bible, from the Hebrew Scriptures to the Christian Testament. Early in Genesis, there is the story of Cain and Abel of Cain murdering his younger brother because Abel’s sacrifice to God was more acceptable than Cain’s. Esau and Jacob were fraternal twins, with Esau being the elder. He was due to inherit everything left by his father’s death. Jacob was unhappy with this situation, so when the opportunity presented itself, he tricked Esau into trading it all for a bowl of stew. This act divided them for years, but they eventually rebuilt their relationship. 

Then there is the story of the prodigal son, who would be the ancient equivalent of the “spare” son. His brother would inherit everything necessary, so what would there be for this younger brother? There would be a pittance instead of plenty, so the younger took his mite and ran away to seek his fortune elsewhere. Instead, he found that living at home would have been far better with guaranteed food and shelter. He realized his jealousy had driven him away from his father’s love and his brother’s company. He returned home, expecting to be rejected. Instead, he received a warm welcome. Then it was his elder brother’s turn to be jealous of that welcome. Sometimes things like jealousy simply pass from person to person, brother to brother, or even stranger to stranger.

Lately, there have been so many stories about Princes William and Harry, one accusing, one trying to remain above retaliation. Neither brother could change their birth order, and one resented being born second, jealous of the attention given his brother. Nearly every day, we hear about one side and the response (or lack of response) from the other. We keep hearing about the same things repeatedly, often revealing and amounting to airing dirty laundry in public. 

We can see from these examples of families plagued by jealousy that even if we get our way is not always the best thing. People are hurt, families are ripped apart, and reputations have been ruined on both sides of conflict. It is never a pretty thing or even a good or fair one. It is merely one person’s wanting something that someone else already has, and someone or even both sides get hurt.

So the lesson seems to be that when faced with jealousy, we must be cautious of how we react. Can something be done about it? Can the situation be changed, short of a capital crime or constitutional upheaval? God gave us a direction in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not covet…” (Ex. 20:17). It amounts to not wanting what someone has. Most of the time, it is hard to do, but God would not tell us to do something completely impossible. It might require us to work hard to achieve it, but is it impossible? Never. Someone, please suggest this to some of the Royals.

Image: Cain Slays Abel with a Jaw-Bone, Miniatures: St. Omer, Benedictine Abbey of St. Bertin; c. 1190-1200. Fol. 2v sc. 2B:miniature (detail.) Source: Found at Wikimedia Commons. 

Linda Ryan is an Education for Ministry mentor, an avid reader, a Baroque and Renaissance music lover, and a fumbling knitter. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter and lives with her cat, Phoebe, near Phoenix, Arizona.

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