If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.
– Bertrand Russell
Oh yes, I have known that feeling expressed in the German word, shadenfreude, which translates to “damage-joy” when we gloat over someone else’s pain. I felt it when…
Wow, that’s a serious one. I know there are times. Times I am not proud of. Times I don’t want to remember about my past.
An easy one would be any time I hear about a rapist or child molester going to prison and getting jailhouse justice. It bothers me that few people would think being gleeful in this situation is a bad thing. Should we ever take joy in the pain of another? We feel we are better, but feeling glee in their misery suggests otherwise.
Even in a case of self-defense, where it’s you or them – or even someone you love of them, even when you made the best choice you could and would do the same a thousand times again, you shouldn’t take joy in the death of another. You shouldn’t even be okay with it.
I made a post about the Texas church shooting and I said maybe the shooter didn’t deserve to die. I had many comments telling me I was wrong. That bothers me. These are the people I surround myself with on Facebook. “Deserve” is a messed up concept, to begin with.
Did he have to die to save others? Was the shooter justified in killing him? Maybe. Is that what they meant or do they really believe he deserves it?
I think taking joy in any kind of death or violence – no matter how justified or how many lives it saves – qualifies for shadenfreude.
P.S. I picked the image before I wrote this post. I thought it was a clever way to illustrate pain in gloating. It does make me realize that it’s not just big things, but tiny things.