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My Turn & My Way (2) “Thou shalt not covet” – A commitment!?

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“Thou shalt not covet,” the last one of the Ten Commandments, has always been puzzling to me, ever since I learned it. I think “coveting” (being envious or/and jealous?), like “curiosity,” is a part of human nature. It is a part of our DNA, isn’t it!? Since I try never to commit myself to something I will not able to accomplish, I have not been able to commit myself to living up to the standard of “Thou shalt not covet.” I want to have a happy life. I don’t like feeling guilty.

When I learn that someone I know has something to enjoy that I don’t have, I may be excited, and might be motivated to work hard to get it. The person could be my hero/heroine. This is a very positive attitude, isn’t it? But, on the other hand, I could be so disturbed that I might try to take it away from the person who has it. Or I might even …

Covet means to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. And culpable means guilty of doing something wrong, according to the same dictionary.

On the other hand, according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Envy (from Latin invidia) is an emotion which "occurs when a person lacks another's superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it." Jealousy is an emotion, and the word typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection.

Bertrand Russell said that envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness. Not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his envy, but may also wish to inflict misfortune on others. Although envy is generally seen as something negative, Russell also believed that envy was a driving force behind the movement towards democracy, and must be endured to achieve a more-just social system. However, psychologists have recently suggested that there may be two types of envy: malicious envy and benign envy—benign envy being proposed as a type of positive motivational force. [From Russell, Bertrand (1930). The Conquest of Happiness.]

Fortunately, I recently came cross a book by Bible Scholar Joel M. Hoffman, who argues that "covet" is a mistranslation, and that the original Hebrew means "take." [From And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible's Original Meaning.]

So even though I may have difficulty committing myself not to covet, I can surely commit myself not to take”! I can happily commit myself “not to take”!




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