The Eight Deadly Sin

April 30, 2012 at 6:29 am 12 comments



When I was studying English in college, I took delight in learning what you call big and fancy words. It took me some time to realize that simple words when used in the right way have more punch as attested by the writings of Hemingway, Maugham, and Bradbury. Anyway, one such word is schadenfreude. The dictionary defines it as the guilty pleasure one feels when another person is brought low by circumstance or his own hubris.

It was schadenfreude that I felt when the bully I was so scared of in high school finally met his match. Actually, in fairness to my budding manhood, some of the teachers were afraid of him, too. He made the mistake of messing with my cousin who just transferred to our school. Unbeknownst to him, my cousin was an expert in martial arts. They met and fought in the courtyard and my cousin gave him a licking he wouldn’t forget. He was bloody and bawling when the fight was over and suddenly he wasn’t the same person. He wasn’t as intimidating as before.

It was the same feeling that I got when our senior manager was fired. He was a real pain in the ass. He called me will although it wasn’t my name. It was short for will do it. He expected me to do as I was told, no questions asked. I remember the time he required me to work the graveyard shift to ensure that all planned tasks were completed. He told me it was critical to call him should any problem occur. When I phoned him at 3 a.m. to report that one of the systems crashed, it didn’t bother him at all. All he said was not to worry about it and went back to sleep. And how about scheduling a meeting at 6 p.m. on days his wife was having a bridge party at home? I told to myself that someday there would be a reckoning. He got the boot for allegedly hiring strippers for a company-sponsored party. It definitely made my day.

schadenfreude is deeply ingrained in our psyche. Why is it that we take delight in somebody else’s misfortune or fall from grace? This is especially true when he or she falls into the category of the famous, the high and the righteous. What is it but a forbidden pleasure that gave rise to tabloids like the National Enquirer?

The Enquirer delivers to our highest expectations. For example, it publishes articles about politicians and religious icons caught in sex scandals. The more serious the charge, the more interesting it gets. It also shows photos of actors of both sexes taken by the paparazzi without their consent and official approval. The more titillating and embarrassing the photos are, the more we feast on them like vultures. If I mention the names of these celebrities, I’d probably get extra google hits. But I think I’d rather not – to protect whatever little privacy they have left.

I believe schadenfreude is a fairly recent word in terms of human experience. Had it been around during the time when the seven deadly sins were drawn up by the church, it would have been considered the eight deadly sin, causing much overcrowding in hell. But, on second thought, perhaps not. After all, it’s such a word that would be difficult to spell and to pronounce and harder still to explain to the faithful.

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Entry filed under: Blogroll, daily prompt. Tags: , , , .

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Abby  |  April 30, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    One of the guilty pleasures. (^_~)

    Reply
    • 2. plaridel  |  May 1, 2012 at 9:45 am

      abby:

      i guess it’s part of being human. 😦

      Reply
  • 3. emilayskie  |  May 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Di po ba merong “h” yung Schadenfreude?

    Anyway, this is so wrong yet it does exist to the natural man and it’s so hard to fight it. The media plays a very important role in nurturing this kind of trait. It didn’t exist in the past because we know less of what’s happening around us.

    Reply
    • 4. plaridel  |  May 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      emilayskie:

      i stand corrected. thanks.

      Reply
  • 5. Mars  |  May 2, 2012 at 7:24 am

    I have heard this word several times from my Philosophy mentor but never really had a chance to get my finger around it. Somehow the definition made me think about one of the Filipinos’ negative traits, crab mentality. IDK why it sounds similar to me. Thanks for the additional info sir.

    Reply
    • 6. plaridel  |  May 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      mars:

      i believe schadenfreude and crab mentality are distant cousins. 🙂

      Reply
  • 7. Mars  |  May 2, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Was struck about the pleasure from others’ misfortunes definition when I looked it up last night… Haha I get really weird thoughts, yes?
    Thus the “somewhow” and “IDK why” and that’s why I have your post to thank for in enlightening me 🙂

    Reply
    • 8. plaridel  |  May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      mars:

      it’s a kind of pleasure alright, but it’s something that doesn’t last. we end up feeling remorseful after indulging in it.

      Reply
  • 9. diane  |  May 5, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Wow new word in my dictionary. Though it appear so hard to pronounce it is ironically so easy to understand 🙂 The word is just sooo everywhere

    Reply
    • 10. plaridel  |  May 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      diane:

      hey, we learn something new everyday. it’s origin is german and i think the closest english word for it is gloating. i wonder if there’s an equivalent word in filipino.

      Reply
  • 11. coolwaterworks  |  May 6, 2012 at 2:19 am

    It is really difficult not to feel a little joyful for the misfortune of those who treated us badly… Its the closest we can get for revenge… A lesser evil, but still evil… Hehehe…

    Nevertheless, schadenfreude does not last long, and once we come to our senses, remorse kicks in…

    And thank you for introducing me to Ray Bradbury a few years ago in my other blog… 🙂

    Reply
    • 12. plaridel  |  May 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      coolwaterworks:

      ray bradbury is one of the greats. i’m sure schadenfreude won’t be among his favorite words. 🙂

      Reply

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i have hated the words and i have loved them, and i hope i have made them right.

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