In buddhism, there is a concept called muditā. Following the belief that the path to enlightenment is guided by the erosion of the ego and an eradication of self-serving desires, muditā involves a feeling of sympathetic compassion, allowing space in one’s heart and mind for joy and elation felt vicariously for someone else and their well-being.
The obverse to this is schadenfreude, the German word that refers to taking delight in someone else’s misfortune. (It’s a shame to admit, but I’ve been no stranger to the latter concept for most of my life. Sometimes it’s just nice to come across the publicly-available mugshot of someone you have developed an extreme distaste for, or finding out that some jackass from high school has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.)
Since Beth and I are more like siblings than anything else (and much to her chagrin, I tend to refer to her as my “little brother,” even though she’s older than me and also female and I say it more because it annoys her than because it bears any resemblance to the truth), there’s a subtle sense of competition and rivalry. I can’t consider this a bad thing at all, at least until things occasionally get out of hand. (After the dissolution of my second marriage, Beth was one of the only people to reach out and help me keep my head above water. In one conversation, the subject arose of why I decided to get married again so quickly after ours had fallen apart. I told her, “I think I got married at you.” It was mostly a joke. (Mostly.))
Just as the nuclear arms race between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. might have compelled one side or the other to enter unlikely or unfortunate alliances with other nations, that sense of competition between the two sides also contributed to the advancement of the space program. We went to the moon.
So, thankfully, neither side blew the other one up. But we, as mankind, left some footprints, flags, golf balls, and dune buggies on the moon. Progress was made. It's a cold, unforgiving, spherical desert in the middle of the bigger, blacker, more-full-of-nothing desert of outer space, but we got up on that thing.
We put our boots on the moon. On the moon.