I learned long ago not to indulge in Schadenfreude if and whenever I can avoid it. It seemed that every time I was happy about something nasty happening to somebody I didn’t like, something unpleasant would soon happen to me. I attributed this to the law of Karma or perhaps I just became too smug. In any case, life just seemed to be a series of people doing mischief and I simply happened to be in the way.
It’s probably a common thought among adults that it seems miraculous that we survived our crazy adolescent monkey business. Thinking back, I’m amazed that I didn’t get arrested or killed because of the various stupid, risky stuff I became a party to. Is there a hormone that causes kids to override their sense of caution and sensibility? Keeping a lid on youthful mischievous behavior is like herding cats.
“He fashions evil for himself who does evil to another, and an evil plan does mischief to the planner.”–the Ancient Greek poet, Hesiod
As I skim through the daily news headlines every day, I notice there are countless folks who apparently have never outgrown their childish propensity to create mischief. There are the usual suspects of petty and felonious violations. In addition, there are those who should know better. Politicians, clergy, and business leaders, who are self-appointed arbiters of truth and goodness, eventually say or do unskillful things. It’s the high and mighty, whose misdeeds are the monkey wrenches thrown into the machinery of civilization, who must be most carefully watched. Mischief in low and high places has serious consequences.
Unlike garden variety fraud or theft for which punishment is swift, one of the worst aspects of mischief in high places, is that redress, if any, seems to take forever. In many cases, the damage to society takes decades to repair.
In the age of the Internet, opportunities for monkey business abound. Somebody across town or on the other side of the world can screw up your devices, drain your bank account, or tamper the voting process of democracies. The tools for carrying out electronic monkey business are inexpensive and accessible to nearly anyone, anywhere. Never has causing anxiety and frustration been easier and faster than now. In most cases, the perpetrators are and remain anonymous.
In hindsight, I think that anything or any concept created by humans inherently has weakness, error, and the potential for mischief-making. This could be a physical object or a belief system. I tend to approach such things with caution and skepticism but not paranoia. This same approach is helpful when meeting new acquaintances, too. When I fail to do this, invariably some sort of mischief happens to me or I become enmeshed in some sort of complicated problem.
When all is said and done, I hope my life will have been long and happy. I hope I’m known as somebody who contributed something good to the world rather than my monkey business.