Schadenfreude: the act of joy in another’s misery. German
Ubuntu: the defining of an individual through others ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu‘ (a person is a person through other people). Zulu
The above 2 concepts interest me. Primarily because for all its dexterity, English has not been able to capture these two themes within its language. They are fascinating, real, and whilst not mutually exclusive, they raise questions as of myself. Is my happiness a result of my own personal gain, or is it due to the gain of others, even ‘us’ as a collective?
Honestly speaking, I have definitely felt some pleasure in the misfortune of others. Usually when they are smarter, richer, more arrogant, better looking or dickheaded I might add.
That happiness is very short-lived and stems from personal insecurities and a need for oneupmanship.
My times of experiencing ubuntu, or joy in a collective, have always been ineffable. Working towards a goal, project or a purpose greater than oneself is, ironically, one of the most liberating feelings I have felt. Ironic because typically this involves cooperation in a group and signing up to a community.
Relative personal gain and success are still somewhat hard wired into my brain. I want to do better than those around me, as culturally I grew up in a competitive environment and I want to push myself individually. Yet Ubuntu is a long term dream. To be satisfied with myself, eliminate the pressure I put upon my shoulders and be. Be with others and for others. That would be real joy and fulfilment.
That would be Ubuntu.