It has certainly been awhile for my dedicated readers (all three of them). The new school schedule has made it difficult to find time to write even the shortest of posts. Yesterday, the state of Texas was hit with the news that Greg Abbott tested positive for COVID. This has been covered by numerous other intrepid journalists and bloggers, so I have hardly anything to add at this point.
Emotions are complex and layered at this point. On a human level, it is impossible to really root for someone to get sick. Yet, on an abstract level it is impossible not to notice what English teachers call irony. Then, there are any number of emotional responses in between. He was at a fund raiser the night before with dozens of unmasked patrons also unmasked. How many of those folks are now positive?
That question sits in the background as we deal with the greater question of how many people he is endangering with his public health policies. It’s at this point that we openly wonder whether he really is an idiot or whether he is just playing one on television. When you go far enough down the road you begin to discover that that is a distinction without a difference.
This brings us to the word of the day. Schaudenfruede is a German word that has no obvious English equivalent. The most agreed upon definition is “shameful joy.” As comedian Dennis Miller once said, “it’s feeling shitty about not feeling shitty about someone else feeling shitty.” Most people in my inner circle feel it is closely related to karma. The general idea is that when you feel it for someone else, there is a pretty good chance that someone is feeling it about you.
That brings us to the complexities of the moment. It’s hard to be happy about someone getting COVID and it isn’t like Abbott is going to get his comeupence anyway. He’s been vaccinated. He has access to the most advanced drugs and it’s not like he’s going to be denied a bed in the local hospital. So, if anyone hopes he learns something from this experience we can put those thoughts to bed immediately.
Something tells me he already knows. He already knows and then goes against that knowledge anyway. It’s a failing on a human level. When you know something is true and then spend every breath working against that truth you have grossly failed as a human being. Such a person shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near public life much less leadership. Yet, that is where we are.
Abbott has proved himself on this front time and time again. Go back as far as you want and you see the portrait of a man that knows the right thing and repeatedly does the wrong thing. An idiot can hardly be blamed for his or her own idiocy. This is particularly true if they lack the capacity to crawl out of their idiocy. Someone that has the knowledge and actively and repeatedly works against that knowledge is the worst kind of human. It takes an overabundance of empathy to feel for that person when they become engulfed by the idiocy they court. Abbott clearly courts idiots and jackasses. They are his base. He now has become one of them. The better angel of my nature prays for his recovery. The rest of me vaccilates between laughter and indifference.
One thought on “Schaudenfreude”
Another very good analysis!