Schadenfreude

Feelings of Schadenfreude crept into my sinews this week, making me feel delightful contrition in one fell swoop.

How superficial to admit I enjoy the misfortune of others: the antithesis of being empathic.

But sometimes a situation gels before your eyes when someone squirms under the hefty baggage she packed herself.

I’m not talking about my students: they are brave souls who take great risks and rely on my encouragement.

I’m talking about colleagues who refuse advice and help. Reminds me of the scene where Gene Wilder, as Willie Wonka, tells Violet Beauregard not to grab the chewing gum: “I wouldn’t do that…” he advises.

And we delight when Violet pumps up like a giant blueberry, getting the come-uppance she deserves.

My secret response is sheer Schadenfreude: delicious delight.

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About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. She is enrolled with the Osage tribe.
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