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People rejoice at the misfortune of others. It is a known fact. There is a German word for this. Schadenfreude. This means “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune”.
Schadenfreude has always been a part of our politics (and to be sincere, part of politics anywhere in the world). One scandal. And the word comes alive.
Think of all the scandals we have witnessed in the current and previous administration. It sends showers of joy all over especially to opponents of the victim.
Take the Airbus scandal for instance. It makes John Mahama’s opponent both within and outside the party sleep well at night.
And for all the scandals that have come the way of the present government, it once again gives pleasure to those within and outside the current administration as well.
But why is that so? I don’t think there is an answer for this question. And many people may have their own reasons for rejoicing at the misfortunes of persons in power.
One possible answer to this question is: “there isn’t enough power to pass around. After all power is finite”. It is not like air that we can breathe. Only one person or group of persons can hold it at a time.
Opposition politicians understand that the only way they get to power is when those in government slip.
But how far does this joyous celebration and reveling in the misfortune of others go. I ask this because of an interesting trend I have noticed on social media.
Anytime a person in power announces that he or she has contracted the virus, a number of reactions emerge.
There is the bland “like” which one is not sure what to make of it. Then there is some signs of sympathy. And then curiously laughter.
This made me ask the question: “Why do people laugh” when persons holding public office contract COVID-19?
Just in case you are in doubt: find one such story. Click on the reaction. Compare the sympathy reaction to that of laughter.
In some cases, the laughter reactions are more than that of the sympathy.
But why would a lot of people gloat or rejoice at the misfortunes of political and public office holders – especially when one considers the route by which they come into office: through popular votes.
This feeling may be as a result of (a) electorates feeling disappointed in the political system or (b) the government officials not listening (enough).
It is possible that some people may even feel that government officials don’t act until their interest is affected. It is a complex mix.
People have rejoiced in the death and execution of political leaders from the French revolutions to the numerous political instabilities in Latin America and Africa.
I am no expert. But maybe it is time for the political class to do some self-introspection and ask themselves if they have discharged themselves well vis-à-vis the political power thrust on them.
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