World CupSchadenfreude is a German word that is literally translated as “harm-joy” and means, “taking pleasure in someone else’s misery.”

In the aftermath of Germany’s clinical 7-1 thrashing of Brazil in the World Cup semi-final it’s a word that has appeared a few times.

As the Brazilian team and supporters grieved their side’s capitulation, other team’s supporters delighted in their pain and were happy to rub their face in it.

Perhaps they had been on the end of a thrashing like that from Brazil themselves in the past.

Perhaps for some reason, they just don’t like Brazil.

Perhaps they are just the kind of people who delight in the misery of others.

It seems unnecessary, but it is also a reality in the world that we live in today.  And let’s be honest, we have all delighted in someone else’s misfortune at different times.

Perhaps you have a nemesis, someone you’ve always compared yourself to and are happy to see fall on their face every now and then.

Maybe it’s a person or organisation that has done the wrong thing by you in the past.  They’ve hurt you and now you’re not unhappy that they are experiencing pain themselves.

Alternatively, there are a lot of people who are seemingly unable to experience real joy in their own lives, except when others are as miserable as them.

In Australia, we have a “tall poppy syndrome” where we as a nation bring down those who aspire to great heights or achieve outstanding outcomes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a famous athlete, actor or politician, we seem to whoop with delight when their lives come crashing down and they return to the same level of mediocrity as the rest of us.

I think that it’s time for an alternative.

Instead of delighting in the misery of others, how about we bring comfort to the hurting and celebrate with those who have achieved great things?

Instead of looking for reasons to bring people down, why not look for reasons to lift them up?

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” 

There’s another well known saying that simply says, “Sadness shared is halved, happiness shared is doubled.”

I don’t know how you feel, but I suspect that world could do with half its existing level of sadness and double its happiness.

We don’t need more schadenfreude, but we could do with a lot more of the opposite.

So well done Germany and congratulations on your stunning performance.  Good luck in the final.

And to my Brazilian friends, I know that the pride of your great nation’s football history will recover to once again, enabling you to play with the flair and creativity that puts fear into the opposition’s hearts.  You may be grieving now, but it won’t be long before you are celebrating the stars of the next generation again.

Over to you, is there anything that you would like us to celebrate with you?

Alternatively, can we provide comfort for you during a difficult time?

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