When the suitable occasion warrants, various negative or demeaning urgings may be normal, however, unless situationally obligated, they are customarily relegated to private thought. Subjective feelings and emotional reactions like jealousy, dislike, hatred, distrust, annoyance, are usually withheld from verbal revelation, in the interest of societal restraint and peace. By contrast, socially approved reactions to positive stimuli such as empathy, generosity, approval, admiration, respect and love, are often energetically expressed and overtly demonstrated.
We have written extensively, in past essays such as, “Songs Without Words,” on the admirable and generous feelings of empathy, sensitivity and awareness for others; personal inclinations which empirically demonstrate the positive aspects of the human persona. By contrast, we have consistently castigated feelings of insensitivity, selfishness and bigotry and their overt expression, in words and actions, as revealing the ignorant, neurotic and atavistic side, of far too many individuals.
Nevertheless, life has taught us, that despite our better inclinations and moral self-image, there are rare times (fortunately) when the most execrable and despicable thoughts and words are rationally warranted. For example, the noun, “hatred” represents, in our view, the most vile and censorious emotion, and as expressed, in word and action, the most detestable. Yet, it is a legitimate word in the American-English lexicon, and has an appropriate (but, hopefully, extremely rare) utility. We do acknowledge the propriety of the extreme emotion of hatred, as well as the relevant words in its expression in response to the of subject of Adolph Hitler and his genocidal program of death camps. In such case, the use of the extreme expression is based upon the consensus of history, which validates as appropriate, the use of the noun, and not, the inclination of the speaker.
The intended point is that there do exist extreme, negative words responsive to instances of anti-social or immoral behavior which, although usually properly withheld and left unexpressed, are fitting, relevant and permissible, under appropriate circumstances.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the German word, “schadenfreude,” the same translates to the unacceptable and unhealthy feeling of pleasure or satisfaction, at another individual’s pain or trouble. There seems to be no English equivalent word for it. This shameful response is diametrically opposed to the virtue and generosity encapsulated in the word and emotion of empathy.
Despite the absence of an equivalent English word for the contemptible word and concept, the reality of the neurotic noun, schadenfreude, is alive well and healthy in our literature, art and sophisticated conversation. We are pleased to candidly report that in our many decades of life, we have never felt that repugnant emotion which we prefer to believe is in direct contravention to our self-image and identity. We have eternally stressed the values of empathy, or, at the least, in concerned sympathy, for others who are troubled or in need.
Having always considered ourselves benevolently moral with a mature interest in the well-being of others as well as ourselves, we have considered the term, schadenfreude, repulsive and neurotic; until now. This repulsive, highly objectionable emotion has, for the first time, crept into our emotional inventory of feelings, admittedly upon the news that President Donald J Trump and his robotic barbie doll first lady, have contracted the coronavirus. It was surprising to us, that in this singular case (as with the word “hatred,” when used in connection with the psychopathic maniac, Adolph Hitler) we feel no misgivings nor guilt, about the confessed personal attribution of the word.
Every American who is at least somewhat familiar with the news, is aware that by reason of Trump’s ignorant narcissism and political ambition, the Nation was not advised about the worldwide pandemic until it reached a virtually uncontrollable stage(despite his prior information about the same) stage, resulting in tragic sickness and mortality for hundreds of thousands of souls. It is hard to believe, that a President of the United States, who, responsibly, should be working on programs to deal with the deadly virus, spent months advising initially, that it was a Democratic Party hoax (“fake news”) later, that it was no more serious than a common cold or flu and then, ridiculing the National Health experts who advised wearing masks, distancing, avoidance of crowds, quarantining if possible, and thorough handwashing. He mocked those preventatives on television, undoubtedly resulting in an even wider spread of the virus and thousands upon thousands of preventable deaths.
It was difficult for us to remain dispassionate, when we learned, that among the initial acts of this ego-centric, ignorant, former second -rate television game show host, was the immediate discharge of a medically specialized group, headed by a physician who was a rear Admiral and comprised of experts charged with the all-important responsibility of monitoring the globe for the possible outbreak of disease. He admittedly did so because it was an Obama inspired program. Consider the timing; it was not too long before the surprise attack of the present epidemic. It was Trump’s insatiable ego, in common with his colossal ignorance, like much of his incapable leadership, that resulted in multitudes of avoidable death and suffering.
It may be unnecessary to recount the publicized plethora of immorality and criminal behavior of this aberrant President who encourages white supremacy, pays hush money to prostitutes with whom he has had assignations, illegally profits from the office of President, committed treasonous acts with Russia, embarrassing our Nation before the World, and too many unpardonable acts that clearly indicate that he does not share our country’s value system.
There is however, one singular act of this psychopathic Chief Executive, which we rate as the very worst of all of Trump’s serious misdeeds and malevolence, separate and apart from his many reprehensible behaviors, bigotry and serial mendacity. This was his well-publicized, public mimicry and tasteless burlesque, in the presence of a reporter’s abnormally jerking and palsied movements due to his tragic cerebral palsy, on prime- time media television. It does not get worse.
In the singular case of Donald Trump, we, completely free of bad conscience, confess to our unprecedented feeling of schadenfreude and wonder if there are others similarly inclined.