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Schadenfreude. A German word for the sensation of taking joy in the misery or failings of others.
At one time or another, we all do this. We get passed on the highway at dangerous speeds by a sports car, only to discover it pulled over by the police a ways ahead. We watch a person who once bested us fail, and grin inside, even if we pretend to be sympathetic. We see a fat person drop their oversized ice cream cone. All the better if they pick it up and try to continue eating.
It’s often the case that this feeling is served with a condiment of guilt. What cruel, unfeeling beasts are we, to amuse ourselves with people’s pain. Shouldn’t we seek to help our fellows in their worst moments?
No. The truth is, tomorrow we may wake up and step in dog feces, find we’re the subject of a tax audit, or be diagnosed with a terminal disease. If the people we ridicule want to turn the tables and laugh at us when these things happen, have at it. Life is short, and someday when our hearts stop and we become dead, no amount of sympathy shown during our lifetime will reactivate our bodies.
So for now, when we hear of a senile, old person who became confused and wandered miles from home into the desert, or watch a drunk girl trip on her heels and land mouth-first into a curb, let’s let our laughs come loudly, knowing that surely life has plenty of similar tricks up its sleeve for us!
Today, I will look around my world and laugh with malice at the pain I see others feeling, all with no shame in my game!