Thanksgiving is a beautiful American tradition centered on family, food, and of course, gratitude for our many blessings. It's good to take stock of the good things in our lives and to focus on what we have, rather than what we don't have.

Obviously, we should carry this attitude with us everyday, not just on Thanksgiving. But the spirit of gratitude and contentedness is threatened by a moral failure that we rarely discuss: We have, in America today, a Covetousness Crisis.

The Tenth Commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Covet," often raises vocabulary questions in children's Sunday School classes. Killing, stealing, lying… those are pretty straightforward. But to covet, which means to "yearn to possess," is a sin that we hear much less about.

Perhaps it is less talked about because it is nearly omnipresent. Indeed, today we are saturated with covetousness. Of course, the goal of modern advertising is to inspire the desire to possess new things; so yes, consumerism and materialism fuel the natural human desire for more, newer, better things.

But our covetousness crisis isn't just about material goods. With the advent and mass use of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media, we can now envy every experience of our neighbor, from the sushi she had last night to the love she (professedly) has for her spouse, to even her charitable support of people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

And don't lie – you're guilty too. We have all, at least on occasions, presented our lives, online or otherwise, to paint the rosiest picture of our reality. This can inspire covetousness in others.

There are at least two devastating effects of this covet-driven culture. One is personal and should be heart-breaking. Another may impact public policy.

First, it robs us of our joy. There is already some evidence that looking at Facebook makes people depressed. Comparing ourselves to others (online or off) and coveting their lives makes us less capable of being satisfied with our own. Worse, it makes it difficult for us to truly celebrate blessings in the lives of others. She got a raise! He got married! They had a baby! These are wonderful things, but when they inspire pings of jealousy, we're living in (and participating in) a sad, depraved culture of envy and covetousness.

Second, although there are many positive arguments in favor of online "connectedness," the constant comparing and competing inspired by more (and selective) insight into the lives of others is fueling a widespread, covetousness-driven entitlement attitude that influences our public policies.

Even if we don't know it, coveting the success and wealth of others is at the heart of economic redistribution. Of course, Americans have long supported social safety nets to provide for the indigent poor. But that's not what's at stake here.

Today progressives disguise redistributive policies as aid for the poor, when in reality the goal is to create more equal outcomes for everyone, or parity in all aspects of life. Of course, dire poverty should trouble us; but "economic inequality" should not.

Envy seduces the mind into a false belief that someone else's gain is our loss. Translated to economic views, this misguidedly paints the economy as a fixed pie, a zero-sum game, an unfair mixed bag of winners and losers.

Obviously, life isn't fair, or equal. Sometimes others will experience good fortune, and we will feel shortchanged. Sometimes others are born into wealth, good genes or good family. But sometimes there's more to the story than what's been "shared."

Sometimes (often) a success comes with serious sacrifices and tradeoffs. Attempts to equalize life for everyone would not only lead to a boring society, but to more inequalities than existed in the first place, by eroding the relationship between virtues like hard work and gain. Russell Kirk wrote, "In the long run, the envious society brings on proletarian tyranny and general poverty. In both the short run and the long run, the generous society encourages political freedom and economic prosperity."

So how can we right the ship and turn away from covetous attitudes? The answer, as Kirk suggested, is generosity, which flows from a heart of thanksgiving.

Each of us should evaluate whether we are fueling feelings of envy in our own hearts or whether we can celebrate and admire the successes of others. And, just as importantly, do we regularly recognize, celebrate, and give thanks for the blessings in our own lives?

Like other moral struggles, the answer is not simply intellectual. This Thanksgiving, let's commit to intentionally practice thanksgiving and generosity everyday. These positive attitudes can catch on culturally, adding to our own happiness and the happiness of those around us, and discouraging the destructive attitudes that steal joy and threaten prosperity for all.

Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum.