2018 was one hell of an eventful year. The overtone seems to be a continuation of division in this country and the world, with examples of unity but only when something devastating occurs and then back to our relatively solitary lives within our social circles.
On Science Friday NPR last week, the hosts were discussing schadenfreude, the concept of wishing ill will on someone else for personal pleasure. While we are currently in a season of good cheer, it seems we still glam onto the failures of others as a testament to the notion “at least my life isn’t that bad.”
Take for instance, Donald Trump. Much of this schadenfreude is being cast at Trump, who, while having one-third of Americans in his fan base, is despised by many more. This nonstop watching and waiting forthe next shoe to drop is a colossal waste of time. If the shoe drops, focus on it then. But countless millions of people are hypnotized by this uber reality show called the American Presidency. The fact that so many are so angry about somebody whom they cannot change, even wishing Trump the worst, even death, what does that say of personal integrity for good will? Despite his so-called bad deeds, is it in the best interests as a society to look forward to bad news for someone else?
There is an obvious pendulum American society swings back and forth on, one where we want the best for someone else but not better than what we have going. We want to hear the good news but not the great news. We want to know our struggle is universal but take ease in the fact that some simply can’t win and somehow that makes us feel better.
In a proverbial sense, it’s a superficial caste system of social standards by which we can deem our own lives to be of some value, i.e., when the rich fail, the poor wins; when the oppressor takes a dive, the oppressed are free; when the criminal gets sentenced, at least it wasn’t “me.” That is until somehow you become what you despise and others take pleasure in your failure. The Round Robin of placing our bets on others’ hopelessness of defeat and struggle is anything but a constructive way to pave the way to personal success.
As we reflect on the crazy year of 2018, let’s charge into 2019 with optimism and support and love. When others fail, seek to find a way to help them, even when you are down. Create the mindset that when others fail, you are failing too. We are a country, a society, a community that is interconnected and the failings of the weakest links make all of us weak. Our daily lives are not just about personal accountability but to know and respect not everyone can move up without help and then aim to do just that.
It is nearly impossible to avoid the bad news, but we can change our perspective on what bad news means for others and become a part of the solution. Vow to participate in joy and solutions and leave the schadenfreude in 2018.