Schadenfreude and Politics


There are some words that just don’t have an equivalent in English (but should).  If there’s one word we should all comprehend, it’s the German word schadenfreude.  It means, roughly, getting your jollies off of other people’s trouble.  To put it in sports terms, it’s your team having a bye week and watching the rival’s game in hopes they get their asses handed to them.  That glee in seeing your “enemies” fall.  

We are none of us innocent of this.  

But politics are not sports–at least, they shouldn’t be.  So imagine how disgusted I felt with myself when I felt a twinge of illicit glee when a certain Southwestern governnor was recently indicted on two counts of abuse of power. After several years of watching this man attack and attack and attack, I have to admit I felt good seeing him on the other end of the stick for a change.

That’s perfectly normal, you might say.

But it’s not right.  Not for my soul, and not for the country.

Yes, some of us lean left, some of us lean right, and some of us are waaaaaay out in BFE.  But we are all still Americans, and when one American leader is corrupt, we all suffer.  There are no winners and losers in politics–either we all win, or we all lose.

This doesn’t just apply to the United States.  Governance has become a blood sport, pitting country against country, region against region, and ethnic group against ethnic group.  There are no winners, only victors.  And the victors never stay on top for long.

Until we realize that the sole purpose of governance and politics is to benefit the governed, and until we work to remove competition, antagonism, and schadenfreude from politics, we will continue to inhabit a very dangerous, hateful world.  Until we truly embrace the fact that we are all human, despite our differences, and that we are all in this together, things will never truly get better.

So I speak to that vile little snot inside me who is quietly gloating about another GOP governor getting hoist on his own petard when I say, “Get the hell over yourself.”

We must choose love.  We must choose compassion.  We must move beyond the pettiness that is killing our world. Otherwise, we will be stuck in this stupid game forever.

It’s not hard.  Just make a choice.  Today, I will be kind.  Today I will not find joy in another’s pain.  Today I will create an atmosphere of love and acceptance.

Do that, and then pass it on.


Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror

P.S.  If you read an early version of this, please forgive me.  I got so wrapped up in trying to embed a stupid video that I forgot to proofread.  Mea culpa.


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