Options - might this represent envy?
British researches claim that not only are Australians the worst of all sinners, according to their definitions, the greatest sin of Australians is envy. What a remarkable thought with the Easter remembrance just passed - the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection! Moreover, the Aussies beat the Kiwi's hands-down with such sinning!
In a study of 35 countries, Australians come up as the most likely to commit this particular 'one' of the seven deadly sins. An article in the February edition of Focus, a UK magazine produced by the BBC, states Australians rank first for envy and third for lust and gluttony. The authors used a points system to determine which countries committed the seven deadly sins - lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride - the most.
Topping each of the sin categories were South Korea (lust), the US (gluttony), Mexico (greed), Iceland (sloth and pride), South Africa (wrath) and Australia (envy). The Kiwi's are way behind this lot of nasties!
I was fascinated by this survey, and wonder why Australians, with their legendary ‘laid-back’ attitudes and casual lifestyle, have come up as the very worst in the entire world with 'envy'. We have everything that opens and shuts!
'Lust' might have been understandable, as the advertising is not without its young female and male exhibitionists, and certainly the hot weather promotes a light and skimpy wardrobe, and the beach scene is certainly a site to behold, even if it is mild compared with some areas of Italy and Brazil.
I was also a little surprised that the Koreans came up tops in 'lust', as when I was in Korea, I noticed the society is more conservative than ours.
I was not surprised that Americans and eating went hand in hand. Everywhere one goes in America, eating is a major feature of their life style. Even a cursory look at the contents of street stalls show ‘super-size’ portions of high-calorie food..
It is easy to imagine why 'greed' came up trumps in less-developed country such as Mexico, where people feel they would like to improve their economic situation; and perhaps 'sloth' is not surprising in a place like Iceland where it's too cold most of the year to do much outside; and why South Africa with its fraught history is high on 'wrath'.
Highlights – might this represent envy?
But I was initially surprised at 'envy' coming up so high in the survey for Australians, then I began to ponder and reflect on why 'envy' might be such an issue.
By and large, Australia is a nation of 'haves', a 'classic middle class syndrome'. While acknowledging there are the relatively poor, the disadvantaged, and the homeless; Australians are generally not so badly off. Take for example, America, where social services are not so generous.
The place of ‘working families’ and the ‘Aussie Battlers’ has been emphasised by two recent Prime Ministers. The implication is that ordinary Australians who work hard can aspire to the ‘middle classes’. Right now there is a huge debate on 'first home buyers' and the difficulties of getting into the housing market. The Government is not intending to do anything that will detrimentally affect the middle class with an investment property – and cites school teachers, policeman, nurses ….
Everyone is considered to have equal opportunity to attain the ‘good things of life’, and because of this notion, definitions of ‘class’ are frowned upon in Australia. However, Wikipedia attempts to do so, and states that two of the indicators of those within the ‘middle class’ is that they have a certain financial security even if supported by the banks, and many own their own homes or are purchasing them.
This certainly describes the ‘Australian suburban dream’ that everyone aspires to. This idea of ‘aspiration’ is perhaps the key to Australian envy. In recent elections the political analysts utilise the term ‘aspirational class’ to describe the group of voters that the major parties need to appeal - those who are wanting to improve their status in life.
Health Care - might this represent envy?
I wonder, perhaps it is not so much ‘envy’ in the conventional sense that Australians are feeling - but a sense of frustration that they are not yet able to ‘live up to the Jones’'. Perhaps the road to acquiring the house and garden, and the possessions they see others enjoying, and the high quality education for their children - is harder and rockier than they anticipated.
Perhaps some Australians are just expressing their desires to partake of the riches of the ‘lucky country’, and wishing more of their aspirations … Many New Zealanders are also in this realm.
With such social analysis and statistics as this, I began to understand and acknowledge that those of the middle class, as well as those of the aspirational class, are seeking to advance their situations within the ideal of the Australian equal society.
As a matter of course, these people might express a form of 'envy' at those who have already moved ahead. This poses a very interesting theological issue, which is how akin is legitimately aspiring to improve one's lot, might be confused with covetousness, or are they one and the same, or are there pie-chart degrees associated with this?
Mind you, at this time of year - many British people who have made Australia their home - have said they are so envious of our unifying ANZAC Day. It is also a reminder of the cost of Calvary and the joy of the resurrection.
Horizontal - might this represent envy?
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html