There's a wonderful German word for taking joy at someone else's misfortune: "Schadenfreude". When we catch ourselves feeling that way, should we also feel guilty? Perhaps ... though when troubles befall people who are outrageously mean or foolish, our natural sense of justice tends to swell, and we thrill to the sense that, for once, somebody "got their just desserts".

Understandable to crow at the too-rare triumph of right --- but may we combine that emotion with a bit of pity? So many innocents are hurt each day; so many worthies are ignored, snubbed; so many beings die too soon. We can never do enough to remedy injustice. Can we not, then, strive to be great-spirited and feel empathy when punishments come to those who richly deserve them? It's hard to be magnanimous when we instinctively want to chortle! Maybe that's why we need to work at it.

Monday, July 12, 1999 at 22:02:43 (EDT) = 1999-07-12

TopicJustice - TopicLife

(correlates: GoodWill, EmersonOnNatureAsAntidote, FanFare, ...)