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“Grant had captured an army of at least 13,000 men, a record of the North American continent. He showed mercy toward the conquered force, giving them food and letting them keep their side arms. Avoiding any show of celebration, he refused to shame soldiers and vetoed any ceremony in which they marched. ‘Why should we go through with vain forms and mortify and injure the spirit of brave men, who, after all, are our own countrymen,’ he asked.” — from Grant, by Ron Chernow
“If your enemy falls, do not exult; if he trips, let your heart not rejoice, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and avert his wrath from him.” —Proverbs, 24: 17-18
For all his overindulgence with alcohol, Ulysses S. Grant was a brilliant general. Although he had some embarrassing losses, he was relentless, strategic and smart. Yet he agonized over those left dead on the battlefield, whether they were his own men or the men of the Confederate army. He was not only determined to lessen their misery, but tried to treat the wounded and dead on both sides, with dignity and compassion.
If you are a Christian or Jew, you are also called by G-d not to indulge in schadenfreude or gloating over another’s loss. I can guess at the reasons (not being a religious expert): G-d, for one, wants us to remember that the enemy was also created in His image. We are also supposed to love our enemies, because when we savor their defeat, we lose a piece of our own humanity.
Keep in mind that wins and losses don’t just apply to battles. What about politics? What about court trials?
Beyond those explanations, what is your understanding of this divine instruction? If you’re not religious, do you have a different perspective? If you are religious, do you try to follow this rule? Do you disagree with it?