In a tweet that read like the opening lines of a self-help book, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, informed the nation that he had tested positive for coronavirus. Instantly, anti-Trumpers were divided through the question of how they should feel. Is it moral to be thankful for this sickness?
As a fellow anti-Trumper, I too felt conflicted. This president, who has caused so many deaths and so much pain, is now closer to the reality many of his citizens have been facing, one we all acknowledge is an inhumane horror. And it did not shock me to see this ethical quagmire dredge up our nastiest and pettiest cultural commentators.
For example, some Twitter users began trying to “hex” Trump, a comment on a BuzzFeed article was “rooting for” the virus, and one Twitter user even asked, “Has anyone thought of the ramifications if the virus has jumped from Human to Trump?” to 21.4k hearts and 3.2k retweets.
I admit that when I first heard the news, I was a bit too overjoyed. The irony of President Trump getting coronavirus after repeatedly saying that it wasn’t something to be scared of is temptingly sweet. But while it is natural to feel illicit joy after hearing that something bad has happened to someone you hate, it is our duty as decent people to take the moral high ground, no matter how difficult it is. Schadenfreude, happiness over another’s sadness, is not for the morally righteous.
While the if-you-do-this,-then-you-won’t-be-any-better-than-them platitude is overplayed, it rings true here. Donald Trump wins when we descend to the same insults and dirty politics that he does. The more that we make light of his illness, the more we paint him as a victim and the less morality we possess. Do not make the mistake of letting your base desires rule you and let yourself fall to his level.
At a time when we are being tested on how ethically and morally sound we are, too many are claiming that decency ends when the right person gets hurt. While secretly feeling righteous anger is no sin, going on to Twitter so you can say how much you hope a human being dies is. Don’t let President Trump win by becoming him. Fight against his reign of incompetence without lowering yourself to his immorality. Be the better person and tell that infuriating, destructive, no good class rival that you hope that they’re okay. It will only serve us in the end.