Tuesday, February 12, 2008

East Timor

Anti-U.N. minds will find cause for schadenfreude in the turmoil in East Timor. "Schadenfreude," if you took it directly into English by the nearest related words, would be "Scathe-frolic."

What a fearful thing is it that any language should have a word expressive of the pleasure which men feel at the calamities of others; for the existence of the word bears testimony to the existence of the thing. And yet in more than one such a word is found. ... In the Greek epikhairekakia, in the German, 'Schadenfreude.'

[Richard C. Trench, "On the Study of Words," 1852]

But take time out from it to offer devotions for José Ramos-Horta, the nation's liberator and president, who barely survived an assassination attempt.

Ramos-Horta was airlifted to an Australian hospital where surgeons said Tuesday he was "extremely lucky to be alive" after they operated for three hours to remove bullet fragments and repair chest wounds.

"His condition remains extremely serious but by the same token, stable," Dr. Len Notaros, the general manager of the Royal Darwin Hospital, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "The next few days will be the telling point."

Ramos-Horta is the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work in East Timor. Unlike too many Nobel Peace Prize winners, he deserved it, and unlike too many world leaders, he has the ability to think about the world, not simply react against America.