Rejoicing in the Pain of Others

Have you ever watched America's Funniest Home Videos?

No episode would be complete unless someone gets hurt in a way that would impede future procreation.  This always gets a laugh.

We  laugh at the pain of others, at least in the small scale.

But I've noticed a trend, recently, in myself ... to rejoice in the pain of others.  Have you ever caught yourself doing this?

"I told you so," "You deserved it," and "What goes around, comes around" form the language of our rejoicing in the pain of others.

And, as satisfying as this can be at times, from a different perspective it's entirely abhorrent.

A year ago, the world cringed when a famous tele-evangelist made a flippant comment that Haiti deserved the devastating earthquake. He made us feel uncomfortable, made some people sick.  But before we condemn him, let's look at ourselves.

We make comments like that all the time (sans the pactwiththedevil).  We may not always laugh, but we gloat and gossip and look on approvingly.  And although we don't admire this trait in others, we do it ourselves.


Maybe it's a psychobiological evolutionary holdover from our openly competitive genetic past.

Maybe it's a reflection of our sublimated desire to lash out at others, a desire we're unable to live out because of our religious beliefs and social norms.

Maybe it's something simpler. What do you think?

Why do we sometimes rejoice in the pain of others?

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