Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Weltschmerz

I was watching the Scripps spelling bee the other night and after 2 nerve wracking hours (the suspense was almost as bad as watching a horror movie), this word appeared. Of course, I had no idea what it meant and couldn't even begin to spell it and I felt sorry for that poor Canadian girl for having been the unlucky one to draw that word. When the announcer stated the definition, my head jerked up and as she struggled to come up with the correct spelling, I realized that this word perfectly describes the state that I have been in for the past few years. The definition from m-w.com:

Main Entry: welt·schmerz
Pronunciation: 'velt-"shmerts
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Welt world + Schmerz pain

1 : mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state
2 : a mood of sentimental sadness

I think depression is too strong a word. I am by no means depressed and this has been verified by a therapist. I guess I would call it profound disappointment with the world and people in general. Most people can get past their disappointment within seconds. I am married to one of those people. Most times, its a blessing that my husband is so resilient. Sometimes, it feels like a curse. I, however, hang on to disappointment for much longer than I should which has probably impacted my demeanor. I've never been a smiler and I've never been overly or overtly enthusiastic about many things. But, within the past few years it seems that there are fewer and fewer things to smile or become enthusiastic about. It seems as though, there are more things to become disappointed and jaded about.

Are these feelings rooted in idealism as the definition states? I don't know. I don't think it is idealistic to wish that people would be nice to each other. I don't think that it is idealistic to expect other human beings to be treated fairly and respectfully without having to give some of us "ethics training" like the military proposes to do with those soldiers in Iraq. Why should someone have to tell you not to kill innocent people???? Is this being idealistic? Expecting people to do the right thing and just use plain common sense?

This was the same argument that I was given when I engaged one of my legal professors in a discussion about the ills of the plea bargain system. I was told that it is just not realistic to expect that every case go to trial, the backlog would be astronomical. This is a fact that I can accept but cases are often plea bargained simply because the prosecution or the defense don't want to lose so let's sacrifice the alleged offender to save our own hide. A 12 year old boy was conned into a plea bargain because an adult got him to admit that if he were to be prosecuted it would likely result in his conviction. What? Isn't that for a jury to decide? Who can argue that that practice is wrong wrong wrong! Yes, plea bargains are a necessary evil but do it for the right reasons!. Yes, war is hell, but it is no excuse to kill innocent (relatively) people!

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