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The Difference Between Jubilation and Gloating

April 21, 2014

I have been thinking about the difference between jubilation and gloating.

I came to this subject from reading and thinking about the seventh day of Passover, an important day of observance for some and a day of less intensity for others.

Tradition informs us that the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea occurred on the Seventh Day of Passover. (See, http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1699/jewish/The-Seventh-Day-of-Passover.htm )

Putting aside its religious content, this passage from the article resonated with me:  “Holidays were not given to Israel to mark the downfall of her enemies. Rather, they were ordained to commemorate Israel’s salvation.” (Id.)

Thus, we do not celebrate the drowning of our oppressors at the Red Sea, but rather our freedom from them.

It is not in the Jewish tradition to rejoice in the downfall or misfortune of one’s enemies.

Gloating is “[observing or thinking] about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight <gloat over an enemy’s misfortune>.” See, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gloat

While still in law practice years ago, I saw gloating in court when someone won at trial or at an important hearing.

Now, in mediation practice, thankfully, I have observed jubilation but not gloating.

Jubilation is “an expression of great joy.” See, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jubilation

Thus in mediation, when parties have finally found agreement with one another concerning the resolution of their dispute, I have seen the visible signs of their relief, their satisfaction or acceptance of the outcome, and their joy in managing the conflict and putting their disagreements behind them.

So why do parties feel jubilation or at least satisfaction in mediation? In my view, it is because they have participated in deciding the outcome. They have voluntarily exercised their self-determination to reach a result they can live with; they have acknowledged their own – and their opponent’s part – in the process, and they have come to terms with the underlying emotional content of the dispute.

Why no gloating? Neither side has defeated the other. Through their joint efforts, the participants have reconciled, either with one another or with their own feelings about themselves or each other, and they have not been led astray by their natural urges – which arise from conflict – for punishment, retribution, revenge, vindication or the like, or even by their “need” to prove that they are right and the other wrong.

***

David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes who is thoughtful about human nature and the lessons of tradition. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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