Et tu, Brute? Even you, Brutus? Julius Caesar asked this question of his beloved friend, Brutus, when he learned that he had betrayed him.
In this post, I would like to explore a hypothesis. My hypothesis is that jealousy is the root cause of human betrayal. I will use the story of Jesus’s betrayal to help illustrate my point.
Psychology Today defines jealousy as the following: Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses many different kinds of feelings ranging from fear of abandonment to rage and humiliation. Jealousy can strike both men and women when a third-party threat to a valued relationship is perceived, it can be a problem among siblings competing for parental attention, or envy after a more successful friend.
It is said that when Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper, he was looking for a model for Jesus. He heard a handsome young man sing in a church choir in a cathedral in London and used him as the model.
But he struggled to find a model for Judas. He searched for years until he found a drunken hobo lying in a sewage gully. He used this man to portray Judas. As Leonardo critiqued his work, he noticed something familiar about the man’s distorted features. He discovered, much to his dismay, that he was the same man he had used years before as the model for Christ.
The story of Judas is brought to life in a writing by Henri-Frederic Smiel, where he states, “Jealousy is a terrible thing. It resembles love, only it is precisely love’s contrary. Instead of wishing for the welfare of the object loved, it desires the dependence of that object upon itself, and its own triumph. Love is the forgetfulness of self; jealousy is the most passionate form of egotism, the glorification of a despotic, exacting, and vain ego, which can neither forget nor subordinate itself.”
Finally, if I replace the word “love,” in the aforementioned quote, with “Jesus Christ” and word “jealousy” with “evil,” the meaning of Smiel’s assertion would be the same and would prove my hypothesis.
The final test of character is asking this: Where would my name fit best? Would it be a replacement for love or jealousy?